Osteoporosis is a debilitating bone disease that effects 54 million Americans. Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone.” It’s caused when your body loses too much bone or doesn’t make enough bone making the bones weak and prone to breaking. There are several risk factors that can cause the disease, and though some are unavoidable, there are risks factors that are preventable.
Who is at Risk?
Osteoporosis is most commonly associated with older, white or Asian women. One in every two women will develop the disease. Generally, women have smaller frames making them more susceptible because there is less bone mass to draw from as they get older. Another reason older women are more likely to succumb to the disease is because once women go through menopause their estrogen levels decrease and the reduction of this hormone weakens bones.
Certain diseases also increase your risk either because of the medications taken for it or because they cause gastrointestinal distress including, Celiac, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Cancer, Lupus, Liver or Kidney disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Exercise to Prevent Osteoporosis
The former risk factors are essentially unavoidable, but there are ways to decrease your risk of developing the disease through diet and exercise.
Weight bearing exercises that force your body to work against gravity prompt your body to make new bone, therefore, decreasing your risk. These exercises include: walking, running, dancing, aerobics, tennis, and yoga.
Strength training also decreases your risk. When you do these exercises your muscles pull on the bones as they work building bone strength. Strength training also makes you more flexible and lowers your risk of falling and breaking a bone. These exercises include: lifting weights, using weight machines, using elastic resistance bands, squats, and pushups.
Eating to Prevent Osteoporosis
Diet also plays an important role in prevention.
Calcium and Vitamin D and protein are vital nutrients in keeping bones healthy. Why we associate calcium with strong bones it’s how we absorb the mineral that makes bones strong and that’s how Vitamin D and protein help. If we don’t absorb enough our bones will break down what it needs and decreases our bone mass.
While we need to make sure we absorb calcium, we do need to make sure we’re getting enough through our diet by eating dark green vegetables like kale and broccoli, fortified cereals and juices, low fat or fat free dairy products, or sardines and salmon with bones.
We can get a dose of Vitamin D through sunshine, but there are also a few foods we can eat. Fatty fish like salmon or mackerel, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and fortified foods like milk, cereal and orange juice all contain the nutrient.
Protein is essential for bone health and eating enough of it can help your body absorb calcium. While most of the population gets their protein from meat, vegans and vegetarians get it through nuts, beans, eggs, and soy.
Other Preventive Measures
Other ways you can reduce your risks are by avoiding alcohol and smoking, drinking less soda, keeping a healthy weight, good posture and balance exercises.
The risk factors for developing Osteoporosis are many and as stated before some of these factors are unavoidable but making sure we’re getting enough vital nutrients through a balanced diet and regular exercise help lower the risks that are avoidable.
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