It is a fact of life that your bones lose their density and become thinner with age. You are more susceptible to injury as you age.
You can make steps to stop osteopenia (thinning of bones) and prevent osteoporosis. The Cleveland Clinic experts have some great tips for you.
1. Take in lots of vegetables.
Vitamin C is found in vegetables, making them the best sources. Studies have shown that both yellows and greens can help bone mineralization.
2. Do strength training.
For those with lower extremity joint problems such as hip arthritis or knee pain, strength training is essential. These conditions can limit your ability to lift weights. Resistance training, or bone loading, is the key. Christopher Travers, exercise physiologist, says lifting lighter weights and more repetitions could be damaging your bone health. Start by doing one to two sets of 10-12 repetitions. Work your way up to muscle fatigue, increasing the intensity and increasing your effort. Proper breathing and technique are key factors in safe lifting. Travers emphasizes the importance of consulting a professional before beginning a rigorous strength training program.
3. Add D to your daily routine.
According to Chad Deal, MD, a rheumatologist, vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. This requirement is usually not met by combined calcium-vitamin D tablets. Most people who live north-of Atlanta don’t get enough vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D supplements can help you meet your daily vitamin D needs.
4. Start weight-bearing exercise.
A weight-bearing activity is one that makes you resist gravity or forces you to move against it. For building bones, high-impact weight bearing exercises are the best. If you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, these should be restricted.
These are just a few examples of high-impact exercises:
- Jogging or running.
- Aerobics with high-impact.
- Stair climbing.
- Sports like basketball and tennis.
- Discuss any exercise plans with your doctor.
5. Avoid smoking and avoid excessive drinking.
Bad news for those with bad habits: Excessive alcohol intake and tobacco use are associated with loss of bone mineral density. Look into programs to quit smoking. Drinking is a habit that should be limited to one drink per day.
6. Have your bone mineral density tested.
DXA is a quick and painless X-ray test that allows doctors to get a snapshot of bone health. This test determines bone mineral density and helps to identify osteoporosis risks. Women should have their test done within two years after menopause. For women and men with certain diseases, and those who are taking long-term steroids or other medications that can increase their risk of developing cancer, it is recommended to have tests done earlier.
7. Take medication into consideration
Women who are in their twenties may be interested in hormone therapy to boost estrogen levels. This is especially important for women experiencing symptoms such as hot flashes or menopause. Women and men with osteopenia and osteoporosis may be able to take a variety of medications to prevent serious hip and spine fractures. Talk to your doctor about denosumab, teriparatide and bisphosphonates. Dr. Deal reminds us that none of these medications work without vitamin D and calcium.