Ellen loves visiting her great-grandmother. Gram, as Ellen calls her, lives in a small white house with roses outside and geraniums lining the steps leading to her front door. Whenever Ellen visits, it seems as if there is always the smell of fresh-baked cookies or bread, or at least hot chocolate.
But today’s visit isn’t going to be the same because Gram isn’t at home. Last Saturday, while Gram was outside watering her geraniums, she stumbled and fell. Although it was just a little fall, Gram fractured her hip and now is in the hospital. Today, Ellen is taking cookies to HER.
What happened to Ellen’s great-grandmother happens to thousands of people each year. A little fall results in a serious injury because of a disease called osteoporosis, which causes bones to be so fragile that they break easily. Older women, especially, suffer from osteoporosis. But often it’s hard to know who has it until an accident, like Gram’s, results in a broken hip, wrist, spine, or other bone.
Ellen will continue to visit her great-grandmother, and she will help cheer her up. But Ellen has learned an important lesson – you are never too young to make sure your bones are strong. If Ellen takes steps now to make her bones as strong as possible, she has a good chance of avoiding osteoporosis when she gets older.
No, Ellen isn’t too young to be concerned about strong bones. As a matter of fact, she is the PERFECT AGE.
Bones develop and grow thicker from the time we are born until our mid-30s. The preteen years are one of the best times in which to make bones bigger and stronger. By building strong bones as a pre-teen, Ellen may be able to avoid a disease like osteoporosis when she reaches her Gram’s age.
BE ACTIVE AND EXERCISE REGULARLY
As a result of Gram’s injury, Ellen has developed a new awareness that her bones are living tissue and respond well to physical activity. For this reason, Ellen wants to be more active everyday. For instance, Ellen is planning to walk to school at least three times a week (when it’s not raining or snowing). She is also planning to continue taking tap dancing lessons – and practice at least four days a week. Ellen is going to try out for the soccer team, but even if she doesn’t make it, she will keep playing with her friends.
Walking, running, hiking, skateboarding, basketball, tennis, soccer, softball, jumping rope, dancing, gymnastics, rowing, and cross-country skiing are all weight-bearing exercises which help the bones to grow big and strong. Ellen knows that this is her once-in-a-lifetime chance to build strong, healthy bones and all the activities she is planning will help to do just that.