Osteoporosis is one of the leading causes of fractures in men and women over 60, with 42% of women over 50 likely to suffer from an osteoporotic fracture. Women who have entered menopause are at more risk of osteoporosis than women before menopause due to the decrease in oestrogen levels, so looking at ways to help prevent osteoporosis are vital. Thankfully, there are many ways to maintain your Bone Mineral Density (BMD) and prevent osteoporosis.
Exercise plays a huge role in maintaining BMD and overall health. Exercise can be undertaken in variety of forms, with some forms of exercise having a more pronounced effect on BMD than others. Weight bearing activities are the most beneficial for maintaining BMD, activities where your skeleton bears the weight of your body such as walking, jogging, ball sports like tennis and dancing are all great forms of weight bearing activities. Resistance training is also a great bone building activity. For example, gym training, body weight exercises, resistance bands, gym balls and even household items and when incorporated into your current exercise regime can help to maintain your BMD. Swimming is one exercise that has not been shown to improve or maintain BMD when compared to resistance training.
Diet and Vitamin D
A well-balanced diet is important for BMD. Particularly calcium intake. It is recommended that women over 50 have 1300 mg or more of calcium from foods such as broccoli, almonds, dairy products and cucumber. Adequate Vitamin D is important to ensure your body can absorb the calcium. For many, the main source of Vitamin D is sunlight which may be a problem for some. Adequate sunlight without increasing your risk of melanoma is key and is also dependent on the time of year, location and the level of UV exposure. See the link to see how much sunlight you need depending on where you live and the time of year.
Alcohol and smoking have been shown to contribute to decreasing BMD. Low risk drinking is defined as having no more than three standard drinks per day and no more than seven standard drinks per week by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Having more than this can affect the osteoblast (bone building) cells and can increase the production of cells that reabsorb bone. Reducing your alcohol consumption can help prevent this process. Introducing alcohol free days and reducing the amount consumed on social occasions are simple ways to help reduce your alcohol intake. Smoking also impacts bone by increasing bone reabsorption, accelerating the loss of bone and disrupting the architecture of bone.
Timothy Hanson AEP ESSA