As a society, we tend to think of osteoporosis as something “elderly” women deal with, when in fact, both men and women can be afflicted with osteoporosis (about 80% of those who have it are women, however). Although we associate osteoporosis with older people, prevention starts well before we’re eligible for our Senior Citizen discount!
Many of the lifestyle choices we made in our youth and young adulthood affect our bone density 30-40 years down the road. We can’t erase bad habits such as smoking, poor diet, inadequate calcium intake and lack of weight bearing exercise in our youth, but we can make some changes now that can slow down bone loss as we age.
If you’re currently sedentary and you’re over 40, you’re losing bone every year. It is estimated that an inactive woman who doesn’t consume enough calcium and is not on hormone replacement therapy will lose between 20 and 30% of her bone mass between the ages of 40 and 70. This scenario sets the stage for a high risk of bone fracture and potential disability later in life.
Here are my top three tips for Osteoporosis Prevention and Management that will help you maintain bone mass as you age:
Eat plenty of calcium rich foods
Adults under the age of 50 should get about 1,000 mg of calcium a day, adults over 50 should get about 1,200 mg a day. Vitamin D is also an important component in the bone building game. Adults should get about 400 International Units (IU) per day. If you don’t think you get enough dietary calcium in the food you eat, ask your doctor if a calcium supplement is something you should consider.
Engage in strength training exercise 2-3 times a week
Resistance training is one of the best forms of osteoporosis prevention you can engage in to maintain your bone mass. The best resistance training options for osteoporosis prevention should require your bones and muscles to work against gravity while they bear your weight.
Choose standing exercises over sitting exercises whenever possible. Include exercises in your workout that use the large muscle groups of your lower body so that you can target the muscles that pull on the back bones and hips—prime areas for bone loss.
Exercises that fit the bill include:
- Step Ups
If these exercises are new to you, have a certified fitness professional train you to execute them properly. Check out Coach Becky’s video on two exercise tips to help manage/prevent Osteoporosis!
Also, a book I recommend for anyone wanting more information on osteoporosis is Strong Women, Strong Bones by Miriam Nelson. It’s got great information to help you learn how to manage or prevent osteoporosis.
Add a little impact to your cardio routine
Okay all you cyclists, swimmers and walkers—time to jump a little. Walking and other low and non-impact activities, while valuable for other fitness measures, don’t stimulate bone the way resistance training and moderate or higher impact activities do.
You don’t have to spend your whole cardio workout jumping or running to get bone building benefits; but a little jumping or running goes a long way. Try adding 10 to 50 small jumps or step-ups to your regular cardio workout. Jumping rope, doing jumping jacks or hopping up onto your porch step a few times is all you need.
High impact activities are not safe for everyone, so it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you add them to your exercise routine.
Osteoporosis can be a debilitating and disabling disease. By taking action NOW, you can decrease your risk for developing it. As an added bonus, the activities that will help you decrease your risk for osteoporosis will also help you feel better, look younger and keep you trim!
If you want to get a head start or improve your conditions, try out our tips for osteoporosis prevention and management outlined here! Let us know if you’ve taken up this routine and how your fitness journey is going!
Also, if you are a woman near or over the age of 40 and are looking for a women-only fitness group, check out our Fit and Fabulous Over 40 Program here!