Are you a women over 50? If so, you may one of half of all women who will break a bone due to osteoporosis. If you’re a man, the odds are one in four. That’s right, men can develop osteopenia, too. In all, about 54 million Americans have osteoporosis.
What exactly is osteoporosis? It literally means “porous bone”. Our bones are dynamic, constantly changing. Up to about age 25-30, we make more bone than we lose. At about this age, we reach “peak” bone mass, the greatest amount of bone we will have. The more bone we have at peak bone mass, the less likely we are to develop osteoporosis later in life. Our bone mass stays pretty stable until midlife - menopause to be exact. For women, the first five years after menopause can lead to a 20% decrease in bone density due to our dropping estrogen level.
Risk factors are both controllable and uncontrollable. Uncontrollable risk factors include; gender – women are more likely to develop osteoporosis and/or it’s precursor, osteopenia; age; family history; low body weight; race – Asians and Caucasians are most at risk.
Controllable risk factors include: diet, lack of physical activity, smoking, excessive drinking, some medications and estrogen deficiency.
Just because you may have risk factors does not mean all is lost! Getting the proper nutrition to strengthen your bones is extremely important. Try to get it from foods rather than supplements. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, beta-carotene, magnesium, boron and K2.
And exercise! Exercise is crucial to help avoid and improve bone loss! As I mentioned before, bones are dynamic and need to be stressed to grow. Be sure you include weight training to provide this bone stress, as well as balance, spine strengthening, posture, and function exercises.
Avoid forward flexion, high impact, twisting, and jerky movements.
I’ve worked with numerous clients with osteoporosis or osteopenia. With consistent, safe weight training, they have slowed or even reversed their bone loss. Exercise works!
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