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Our Bodies Our Bones: Exercises & Other Strategies in Osteoporosis Prevention

Developed and edited by Lila A. Wallis, MD, MACP
New York, NY: National Council on Women’s Health; 2005
194 pages

The focus on osteoporosis has spread from the subspecialty offices of endocrinology and orthopedics to the offices of primary care providers. Patients are reaping the rewards. This added attention is due, in part, to a 2004 Surgeon General’s statement outlining the prevalence of osteoporosis, the consequences of vertebral and hip fractures, and the enormous financial impact of untreated disease. The amount of information for healthcare providers to share with their patients about disease prevention is growing rapidly. Healthcare professionals are becoming more aware of and attentive to the varied health impacts of osteoporosis and the increasingly sophisticated tools available to manage it.

Published by the National Council on Women’s Health, Our Bodies Our Bones begins by defining the audience as women of all ages who have an opportunity to teach family members, from children to grandparents, how to improve their bone health and maintain strong bones. It is never too late to start prevention strategies and reduce or eliminate the consequences of osteoporotic fractures. Exercise, diet, and lifestyle receive the focus in this book -- the “primary weapons” in the prevention of osteoporosis. The book proceeds with three strategies: 1) educate the reader about the medical and biological aspects of osteoporosis, 2) review prevention and treatment strategies, and 3) explain how to incorporate bone health into basic health for everyone in the family.

Exercise is pivotal for maintaining bone health. The strengths of this book are in the exercise descriptions and illustrations for warm-up, postural, stretching, and weight-bearing exercises. There are also exercises not generally found in books about osteoporosis, such as illustrations of strength training and muscle building to be used in the swimming pool, exercises following a vertebral fracture, and guidelines for body mechanics to prevent spine fractures. The discussion also wisely and appropriately includes a review of tai chi as a low-impact, weight-bearing form of exercise that improves muscle strength, flexibility, and balance, thereby reducing the prevalence of falls and fractures.

The chapter on calcium and vitamin D points out that many teens and adults do not get enough calcium on a daily basis. Vitamin D deficiency is a potent contributor to bone mineral density loss. The author discusses vitamin D deficiency, but only in the context of elderly people or those home- or hospital-bound. The book concludes with good advice on commonly prescribed medications that can deplete bone density.

Our Bodies Our Bones gives the reader valuable information about the primary weapons for fighting osteoporosis, most specifically exercise. This well-illustrated text will get the interested reader off to a good start. The book hopes to convince the reader that bone health is important and that attention should begin early and continue throughout life -- a mission that is accomplished.

Review written by:

Sandra Hall Kesner, MSN, NP
University of Cincinnati Bone Health and Osteoporosis Center
Cincinnati, OH

The comments contained here are opinions or information of the reviewers and not necessarily the opinions or information of The North American Menopause Society, its officers, agents, or Trustees. Oversight for the book reviews is given by David A. Hutchins, MD, a member of the NAMS Consumer Education Committee.
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