Monday, August 17, 2020

Osteoporosis - The Why and How.

Osteoporosis is when the body loses too much bone or is not able to make enough bone.   In reality, bones are porous to begin with but if someone has osteoporosis, those spaces become bigger causing the density of the bone to decrease and eventually, the bone could break.

It is thought that one in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 suffer broken bones due to osteoporosis. The breaks are most likely to occur at the hip, spine, or wrist but can occur in other places. Unfortunately, osteoporosis can also lead to permanent pain, becoming stooped or hunched, and possibly loose height.

In addition, it can limit mobility and about one fifth of the seniors who break a bone due to osteoporosis, pass away within one year due to complications of the broken bone, or the surgery to repair things.  Many people end up in long term care.  

The problem with osteoporosis is that it can sneak up on people.  The only "symptoms" most people experience before they break a bone is they start stooping and lose height.  Other than that, there are no real symptoms which is why osteoporosis is referred to as a silent disease. Furthermore, women are more likely to get osteoporosis than men, especially white and Asian women.  The risk increases after menopause because estrogen helps protect bone density.  If one of your parents have broken a bone or you have a smaller frame size, your chances are increased for suffering osteoporosis.

It may sound like doom and gloom but there are things a person can do to slow down and prevent osteoporosis.  First, make sure your diet has enough protein, vitamin D, and calcium.  Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium so if you live in places where you might not get enough vitamin D via the sunlight, take supplements.  Calcium is is one of the building blocks of bone and you want to get enough but too much can lead to kidney stones.

One of the best ways to slow osteoporosis is through exercise, more specifically weight bearing exercise.  The weight bearing exercise could be either low or high impact because it helps stop the loss of bone and can even help build it. Furthermore, add in some strength exercises to help build and keep the bone density up in your arms and upper spine in addition to building muscles in the same area.  

To build strength, look at lifting weights, using elastic exercise bands, use your own weight such as in pushups, or rise and lower yourself on our toes. In addition, suggested weight bearing exercises include dancing, walking, high-impact aerobics, jogging or running, hiking, climbing stairs, or tennis.  Tai chi and yoga are considered good exercises for building and maintaining balanced.

 Although osteoporosis usually strikes after the age of 50, it is strongly recommended men and women begin exercising when younger to make sure your bones are strong and stay strong as you age.  This is because up till the age of 25, your body is making bone, between the ages of 25 and 50, your body needs to maintain the balance between losing bone and making bone so bone density remains stable.  Once you hit 50, losing bone tends to outpace bone building and if you don't do anything, osteoporosis can occur.

So if you are under 50, exercise, eat well, and make sure you have enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet so you slow down any bone loss and keep your bone density up.  I took responsibility to make sure I began exercising regularly beginning when I hit 30 or so because I wanted to make sure my weight didn't get out of control and in the process I've been doing some good things for my body.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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