By Beth Parry
If you are considered part of the baby boomer era, you may be starting to think about your bone health and your risk for osteoporosis. What if I told you that our peak bone density occurs in our late 20’s?
We begin to lose bone density after age 30.
Moderate bone loss is perfectly normal as we age, especially in women after menopause. Although females have a greater risk for osteoporosis, men are also susceptible. Your genetics play a role in your overall bone health.
However, your lifestyle choices such as smoking, inactivity, medications and poor nutrition also impact your bone health. All these factors increase your risk for weakened bones. But what now? Can you reverse your osteoporosis and improve your bone health?
The answer is yes. Even with a current diagnosis of osteoporosis, you can make healthy lifestyle choices that positively impact your bone health.
You can start by eating a well-rounded nutritious diet, soak-up your vitamin D, quit smoking, and avoid heavy alcohol consumption. Studies show regular weight-bearing exercise can increase both bone strength and bone density. During exercise, the weight-bearing force of gravity, along with the force of a muscle pushing and pulling on the bone, stimulates new bone growth. This improves the overall density of your bone tissue.
Weight-bearing exercise is considered any activity that puts force on your bones, such as walking and hiking; body weight exercise like yoga or Pilates; or any exercise using weight. These include resistance bands, free weights or nautilus machines. Bad news to the bikers and swimmers, although very good for your overall health, these activities don’t seem to have as positive of an impact on improving bone density. Be sure you incorporate land-based exercises to your workout regimen.
Talk to your doctor if you believe you may be at risk for osteoporosis. Most signs and symptoms of osteoporosis remain silent until a fracture occurs. Fractures frequently occur in one’s spine, wrist, and hips resulting in chronic pain, loss of independence, and occasionally death. There are many ways to decrease your risk of fracture. Adding in exercises to strengthen the core and challenge your balance to prevent falls. If exercise is not already a part of your lifestyle, seek help from a professional. Hire a personal trainer at a local gym to guide you through a strengthening workout plan.
Physical therapy would also be a safe and effective choice. It is important to work with a professional that understands the risks involved in exercising with osteoporosis. Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, it is a very treatable condition.
Only you have the power to make positive lifestyle choices to reverse or prevent your bone loss.