INSTRUCTOR: Rock and curl.
ANNOUNCER: For Mary Pacunis, weight-bearing exercise has become a central part of her life. She started aerobics when she was 70 and learned she had osteoporosis. Research has shown weight-bearing exercise helps bones regain calcium and may help avoid fractures. Now, at 73, she walks every day and takes an exercise class four times a week.
PAUL BIESBROECK, M.D.: Let's try your back here. Does that hurt when I do that?
MARY PACUNIS: No.
PAUL BIESBROECK, M.D.: No pain, huh?
MARY PACUNIS: No.
ANNOUNCER: Before she started her diligent efforts to preserve her bones, Mary had already lost 30 percent of bone density in some parts of her body.
MARY PACUNIS: He says, "You're a candidate for osteoporosis. You're small-boned, fair complexion."
ANNOUNCER: Apart from these inherited factors, other risks include smoking, a diet low in calcium, a high alcohol intake and a sedentary lifestyle. According to endocrinologist Paul Biesbroeck of Mesa, Arizona, most people are surprised to find out they have osteoporosis.
PAUL BIESBROECK, M.D.: Can you sit up? There's no symptom that's going to tell you that you have this until you have an adverse event-- a fracture, as a result of it.
MARY PACUNIS: I'm really not much for-- I haven't had to take pills, you know, until this showed up.
ANNOUNCER: For two years, Mary has also been taking a bone-building medication as well as calcium supplements and drinking milk twice a day. Her most recent bone-density scan shows that her efforts have paid off, though not as significantly as she had hoped.
PAUL BIESBROECK, M.D.: So the trochanter of your hip has gotten better-- the femoral neck of your hip hasn't changed much. Okay?
ANNOUNCER: Mary believes that if she can stick to her exercise routine and healthy diet, she will be able to at least maintain her current bone density and avoid fractures as she grows older.
MARY PACUNIS: Once you lose it, it's pretty hard to get it back. I'm getting a workout.
ANNOUNCER: It's never too late to start treating osteoporosis.