Exercise and a well-balanced diet can help prevent bone loss, or osteoporosis.
By OHM staff
As we age, our bones lose the ability to replace certain cells as fast as they degrade, and if that degradation is significant, it can result in osteoporosis (bone density/bone loss), or osteopenia (loss of bone mineral density). According to the American Journal of Managed Care there are 54 million people with low bone density. They project more than three million osteoporotic fractures a year by 2025, with related expenditures of $25 billion a year.
What can we do to support bone health?
The musculoskeletal (bones and joints) system is designed to be resilient against the physical demands we place on them. For our bones and joints to function properly, they must be challenged regularly with weight-bearing exercises. Examples include:
- Jumping jacks
- Climbing stairs or using an elliptical
- Low-impact aerobics
These exercises work directly on the bones in the legs, hips and lower spine to slow mineral loss.
What causes low bone density, and how is it treated?
During childhood and adolescence, much more bone is deposited than withdrawn as the skeleton grows in both size and density.
Between ages 25 and 50, bone density levels tend to stay balanced. After 50, the equation starts to work against the body, and our bones become less dense.
As with many conditions, low bone density can be both prevented and combatted in an otherwise healthy individual through exercise and a well-balanced diet.
Foods that are good for your bones include:
- Dairy products — low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese
- Fruits and vegetables — leafy green vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, etc.)
- Fish — canned sardines, salmon (with the bones)
- Fish containing vitamin D — salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines
These foods are rich in calcium and vitamin D, nutrients that help sustain strong bones.
According to the US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, fewer than 20% of adults perform the recommended amount of physical activity, including bone-strengthening exercises, required to keep bone density at a healthy level.
Before you start any exercise, consult your healthcare provider to discuss what exercises work best for your health situation.
Sources: Osteoporosis Diet & Nutrition: Foods for Bone Health, www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org, CDC.gov