How to Strengthen Your Bones at Any Age
As a woman, your odds of suffering a bone injury are greater than a man’s at every point in your life. The good news is that bones can be strengthened and the risk of breakage alleviated, even after menopause. It’s a matter of good nutrition, exercise, giving up a few bad habits and sometimes just plain old common sense.
Variations in bone structure between the sexes can pose challenges even to healthy young women. In fact, experts say that the most common group for stress fractures is female military recruits. That’s because in women, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is smaller than that of men, increasing the risk of knee injuries.
As a result, high-impact sports and activities such running, basketball and soccer, while great for overall health, can lead to an increased risk of injury in women.
Age also plays a factor. Everyone’s bones lose density as they age, but the effect is more pronounced with women, and at a younger age. Males tend to lag women by about a decade in this area.
In addition, women over age 50 lose bone density with the loss of estrogen. Experts say that body size also plays a role, with smaller, thinner-framed women at a higher risk of bone loss sooner. And women are subject to postmenopausal osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones lose bike workouts are other lower impact exercises that can help promote better bone health while safeguarding joints.
STEPS TO BETTER BONE HEALTH
To increase your resistance to the effects of bone loss at any age, here are some diet and lifestyle changes you can make:
Alter your diet. Calcium and vitamin D support good bone health, and some of the best sources of calcium are dairy and leafy green vegetables such as spinach or kale. Soy milk and almond milk also have high calcium content but with less fatty value and a higher protein value than cow milk, and without lactose.
Greek yogurt is another prime calcium source, and salmon, tuna and dairy are excellent sources of vitamin D.
Exercise. Physical stress strengthens bones, just like a good cardiovascular workout
strengthens the heart. However, the irony is that high-impact exercise may be healthy for bones but can damage your joints, especially in older and overweight people. Age appropriate aerobics classes and other exercises are available at health clubs, so try to find the exercise that’s right for you.
People who are beginning to exercise for the first time should start slowly. Experts suggest walking on a treadmill or take very brief walks. Water aerobics and stationary bike workouts are other lower impact exercises that can help promote better bone health while safeguarding joints.
Eliminate bad health habits. Alcohol and smoking increase the risk of osteoporosis.Get tested. Getting a bone density test after age 50 is very important, especially if you have a family history of osteoporosis. It’s never too late to build bone mass, even if tests show significant loss.
Know when to seek help. Physical activity is bound to result in at least occasional after-workout discomfort, especially if you’re not used to putting that level of stress on your body. Most aches and pains will go away in a day or two with ice, rest and anti-inflammatory drugs. However, if your injury is caused by impact, or if the pain doesn’t go away in 72 hours to a week, make an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Top Osteoporosis Risk Factors
- Getting older
- Being female
- Being Caucasian or Asian (Hispanic and African American women are also at risk but less so.)
- Having a family history of osteoporosis
The physicians and staff at Innovative Orthopedics have years of experience diagnosing and treating orthopedic and podiatric conditions. To learn more or to make an appointment call 731-644-8304.
The Real Truth about Diet vs. Exercise
Q: Which is more important for losing weight—exercising more or eating less?
A: There is a research-based answer to this question, but let’s begin with the caveat that exercising is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. That being said, the experts tend to agree that dieting is most important: You’re simply going to have to eat less if you want to weigh less, with or without exercise. A study by Loyola University Chicago, in fact, found that by itself, neither physical activity nor being sedentary corresponded to weight gain.
Q: But I thought weight loss was just a matter of burning off more calories than I take in?
A: That’s true, but it’s much easier to prevent weight gain by eating less than trying to take off those pounds with hours of exercise later on. The amount of exercise you would need to do to lose weight without cutting back on calories just isn’t practical for most people, especially over the long term. In addition, your appetite will naturally increase if you boost your workout time, and you may also be more tempted to indulge in less healthy food choices as a reward for your efforts. In fact, you can be a fairly active person and even gain weight if your diet is poor.
Q: So should I cancel my gym membership and starve myself instead if I want to drop 10 pounds?
A: Diet may be the most important component of losing weight, but you’ll have a much better shot at keeping the pounds off if you combine diet and exercise. People who use both strategies see better long-term results over a year than those who don’t, according to research reported in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Q: But I could still lose some weight by just eating less without having to exercise too, right?
A: Yes, but you may find it easier to lose weight faster if you’re adding more activity into the mix. Exercise will help you feel better both physically and mentally while you’re eating less, which can inspire you to keep going with your weight-loss program. Thirty minutes a day of physical activity is a good minimum, and 60 minutes a day is even better for weight loss.
Want to learn more about making the best food choices for your heart? Henry County Medical Center’s Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab as well as our Diabetes Education program is offering you the opportunity to learn what to eat for a healthy heart thanks to the Paris-Henry County Healthcare Foundation.
The class is free and you receive a FREE Nutrition Booklet to take home. The class is limited to 24 participants and Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab patients have first priority to attend the class. Please, we ask you leave children at home. The cost for this class is free.
You must pre-register for this event. For more information please call Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab at 731-644-8558 or call the HCMC Find Line at 731-644-FIND (3463). Class will begin promptly at 9 a.m.