Did you know that your bones are actually made up of living, growing tissue? Even when we stop growing taller, our bodies continue to make new bone to replace old weakened bone. However as we grow older, we may make less bone than we lose, which can lead to osteoporosis and low bone mass.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, more than 57 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis and low bone mass which can lead to an increased risk of broken bones. Although family history can be a risk factor, many bone breaks caused by osteoporosis and low bone mass can be avoided by enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle.
“Osteoporosis is avoidable for many of those at risk,” said Amy Porter, CEO of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. “By maintaining a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, doing regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises and by following medical treatments as prescribed, the millions at risk for osteoporosis can protect their bones.”
Diet is critically important to bone health and it’s never too late to start protecting your bones from within. Nutrients including calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K have been shown to support bone health and can be found in a wide range of foods including dairy products, green leafy vegetables, salmon, sardines, bananas, tomatoes and potatoes.
Exercise can also help strengthen bones at any age, allowing us to maintain muscle-strength, coordination and balance, which helps prevent falls and related fractures. This is particularly important for older adults who may have lower bone density or who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
The best exercises to support bone health include a combination of weight-bearing exercises and resistance training.
Weight-bearing exercises may include high-impact activities such as running, tennis, jumping rope, dancing or aerobics, while low-impact activities include brisk walking or using an elliptical machine. In fact, one study even suggests that regular weight-bearing exercise and a healthy body weight during youth is more important for reaching optimum bone health than calcium intake.
Muscle strengthening or resistance exercises such as lifting weights or lifting your own body weight such as in Pilates or yoga, may also increase muscle strength and decrease the risk of falls and broken bones.
It’s important to keep in mind that proper diet and exercise may not be enough to stop bone loss caused by medical conditions or menopause, so it’s important to speak with your doctor about bone health and follow their advice to reduce the risk of osteoporosis or low bone mass.
Do you know anyone that suffers from osteoporosis? What exercises do you do to help maintain bone health?