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February 26, 1982

Add exercise to calcium in osteoporosis prevention

JAMA. 1982;247(8):1106-1112. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320330010004

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Dietary calcium supplements can provide valuable aid in slowing age-related bone loss and warding off some of the hazards of osteoporosis. But taking supplements without engaging in physical exercise— preferably of the jogging or walking variety—is like settling for half a loaf.

As was agreed at a recent symposium on diet and exercise held in Orlando, Fla, under the auspices of the Florida Medical Association and the American Medical Association, the mechanisms of action of dietary calcium supplementation and physical activity appear to be different. Calcium acts to suppress bone resorption, whereas mechanical stress seems to enhance bone formation. Consequently, combining the two measures appears to be the most practical approach to preserving sound skeletal mass into old age.

In one report on the subject, G. Donald Whedon, MD, senior science advisor to the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, told of several studies showing that