Seriously though…it will. For many women, they don’t even know they have a bone density problem until they end up with a spinal fracture with an unknown cause. Osteoporosis is a disease that all of us need to consider as we age. In our 30’s, our bones stop increasing in mass and that means, from then on, we need to be protecting the bone mass we have. It’s not common for a young woman in her 30’s to even think about this little known fact. When you enter your 40’s and 50’s, depending on certain factors, you may actually be losing more bone than you are building.
Here is a short list of risk factors for developing Osteoporosis.
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Early menopause
- Inactivity or extended periods of bed rest
- Some medications used to treat arthritis, asthma, acid reflux, or cancer
- Small body frame
- Broken bones after age 50.
- Poor diet
Keeping your bones strong, means you are eating a diet full of calcium and vitamin D. For some, the instinct is to buy a supplement but the better option is to spend 10 or 15 minutes out in the sun every day, without sunscreen to help build our Vitamin D stores and get your calcium from actual food sources such as cottage cheese, low fat milk, spinach, yogurt, even cooked broccoli. For additional Vitamin D from food, consider eggs, tuna and liver.
Move your body and focus on weight bearing exercise. Why weight bearing? When the skeleton is under stress, it become stronger. Walking, biking, and swimming are great exercises to start with, then add in some simple weight lifting regimens. Don’t have a set of weights at home? You can use your own body weight, or even cans of soup or water bottles. There is a lot of information on internet for weight bearing exercises you can do at home.
Strengthen your core. Many women don’t realize that a strong core helps protect your spine, an area that can be prone to fractures when dealing with osteoporosis. So, pilates or yoga anyone? The benefit to these exercises is that you get a little stress relief as well.
Under the supervision of a doctor, you can begin to stop smoking if that is a habit you have acquired. Nicotine leaches calcium from our bones but if you have smoked a long time, you’ll want to quit with the help of doctor. Sometimes a cold turkey approach can have unfavorable side effects so a slow and steady approach can be favored.
Finally, get in for some baseline, bone density testing to see where you stand. It’s a good idea to do this well before your 60’s so you can be proactive and preserve your good bones before trouble sets in. Aging doesn’t have to be painful and discouraging. Sometimes we accept that pain and deterioration is just a way of life once we turn 50 but that is just not true. With good health practices, we can continue to thrive as we age gracefully and naturally.