When you think of osteoporosis you probably have an image of your grandmother or someone sitting in an assisted living center using a walker to get around. This may be the age group that is most at risk but you really need to start thinking about healthy bone density long before that.
Our bones are alive and therefore constantly changing, our skeleton continues to grow and develop until we are in our early twenties, this is when bone mass is most dense and from there bones start to thin and become frail. By the time you are fifty you could be at risk for a Osteoporotic fracture.
Once peak bone mass has been reached, it is maintained by a process called remodelling. This is a continuous process in which old bone is removed (resorption) and new bone is created (formation). The renewal of bone is responsible for bone strength throughout life…. the rate of bone resorption is greater than the rate of bone formation and results in net bone loss –a thinning of your bones. (1)
Bone thinning is a natural process and cannot be stopped but you can be proactive in maintaining high bone density throughout your life to limit the risk of bone fractures. There are many different factors that contribute to bone thinning that include genetics and family history but lifestyle plays a big role too.
According to the IOF, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men aged fifty years and over are at risk of an osteoporotic fracture. Prevention is key, and it starts early, the earlier the better. Once you hit peak bone health in your twenties you need to maintain it as you move into your thirties and beyond.
Weight bearing and resistance exercises provide sustenance for our bones just as they do for our muscles. This includes any movement when your muscles have to work against gravity therefore causing the muscles and bones to work harder and as a result, get stronger. Try to incorporate hiking, jogging, tennis, skipping rope, climbing stairs etc into your routine. Strength building works in the same way. You are using resistance to create a stronger muscle and the bones respond by getting stronger too. When you put stress on the bones through resistance you increase bone density. Yoga is great as a preventative measure too as it helps to develop balance, coordination and proprioception.
What else can I do?
• Exercise regularly. Strengthening the entire body will help to maintain a strong skeleton.
• Maintain healthy body weight.
• Ensure adequate nutrition, including Vitamin D and calcium.
• Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
• Avoid heavy alcohol consumption.
If you already have Osteoporosis or know someone that does please consult your doctor before beginning any exercise regime.
- IOF-International Osteoporosis. What is osteoporosis? https://www.iofbonehealth.org/what-is-osteoporosis