Joelle Reizes - October 16, 2013
When we imagine ourselves in our golden years, many of us probably picture the kind of person who is still active and able to get around. To make that vision a reality, it’s essential to cut down your osteoporosis risk by taking necessary bone-building steps. It’s time to start preparing today for the person you want to become tomorrow.
For men and women, the older we get the weaker our bones become. Women start losing bone density in their 30s and have whopping 50% chance of contracting osteoporosis. The best way to avoid osteoporosis is through prevention. The National Osteoporosis Foundation names these three components as being essential for building stronger bones:
For your body to properly absorb calcium, it needs vitamin D. The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun. Many of us, however, don’t live in perpetually sunny climates, or we may be homebound. Talk to your doctor about what level of Vitamin D supplements may be right for you.
Building bone mass is easier than you think. Any weight bearing exercise can cut down on bone loss. Try to work simple exercises into your everyday routine. This can include:
- Walking up stairs
- Carrying heavier loads, like bags of groceries, small children, loads of laundry, etc.
- Jumping up and down for at least 2 minutes
Keep dumbbells and ankle weights at your desk or next to your television. While you’re sitting, use them to do simple exercises so you can build bone mass and cut back your osteoporosis risk even while being sedentary. Start with light 2 or 3-pound weights and slowly work your way up to heavier ones as you build up your muscle strength.
Your diet plays a huge role in the health of your bones. For optimum bone health, the most important element to work into your diet is calcium. Foods rich in calcium include:
- Low-fat dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.)
- Dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collards, chard)
- Canned salmon or sardines (with bones)
- Soy products like tofu or soybeans
- Calcium fortified cereals or orange juice.
Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also greatly increase your osteoporosis risk, so it’s best to avoid both.
Osteoporosis screening is also important for prevention, especially among women at high risk of bone density loss. It is a painless procedure that can help you take control of your life and allow you to become the active, happy person you envision for yourself throughout your years to come.