To think your bones are living tissue that change over time is a strange thought but it’s true. And without proper care, those bones will decrease in strength, become brittle, making them more fragile and susceptible to fractures. As bone density diminishes, osteoporosis occurs, something that over 200 million people worldwide suffer from (thirty percent of them being postmenopausal women).
So, we know how prevalent it is, but the good news is that osteoporosis is not inevitable as you age and it’s never too late to start making bone health a priority. You can build stronger bones and help prevent osteoporosis with just a few simple and healthy habits.
Much like other disease management programs, the prescription for good bone health is a combination of regular exercise, eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, getting enough calcium and vitamin D, and avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol.
Here is a guide to help you get started:
Rid yourself of the risks. Most of us know the risks of smoking but it can wreak havoc on our bones. Other risks associated with poor bone health include excess alcohol, caffeine, and sodium. Studies have shown that people who have more than 2 servings of alcohol daily have an increased risk of bone fracture.
Get your daily dose. After age 50, women in particular, need to increase their calcium to 1,200 milligrams of daily and about 600 IUs of vitamin D. Sunlight not only helps your mental health but your physical health as well. Experts recommend five to 10 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen) on the hands, arms, and face, two to three times a week, to help the body process the necessary vitamin D for bone health.
Get moving every day. No need to go to crazy soul cycle classes to build bone health. You can build and maintain bone density with just 30 minutes of exercise each day. Focus on weight-bearing exercises, such as yoga, tai chi, and even walking, which all help promote bone health. Throw in some free weighs on your walk and exercise bands as well to engage more of your muscles. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.
Testing is important. A bone density scan, or DEXA scan, can detect thinning bones at an early stage. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that women over age 65 get a bone density scan. If you’re under 65 with certain risk factors, you may also need to be tested. This includes women with a family history of osteoporosis, those who weigh under 127 pounds and current smokers. It’s best to discuss your need for a bone density test with your physician.
There is no time like the present to make bone health a priority, especially if you have risk factors. And of course, following the guide for healthy bones helps your overall health as well. So, why not start today?
Inter Valley Health Plan is hosting an online class ‘Osteoporosis = Weak Bones!’ on October 20 from 12-1pm where you can learn the facts about this bone disease, prevention, and treatments to get the healthiest, strongest bones possible. You CAN reverse this if you know what to do! To register, click here.
Visit Inter Valley’s blog at https://blogs.ivhp.com/blog-2/ for tips on health, lifestyle, Medicare Advantage and living a life full of vitality.