Linda M. Burdette, MPAS, PA-C
Osteoporosis is one of many health concerns for midlife women. Your bone health can be protected with proper nutrition including adequate calcium and vitamin D. Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption also slows bone loss, but medication may be necessary if it becomes severe. The other ingredient for good bone health and osteoporosis prevention is exercise.
The most important exercise for your bones is developing and maintaining good posture. No amount of exercise will undo 16 hours of bad posture a day. Think about sitting and standing as tall as possible, pulling your belly button towards your spine, lowering your shoulders, and gently drawing your shoulder blades together. Place a mirror in a location where you will see yourself frequently so you will be reminded if you start to slouch.
Then develop a plan for weight-bearing, strength-training, and balance exercises. These have all been shown to improve the health of your bones and decrease the risk of falls. Inactivity such as prolonged bed rest, limb immobilization, or spinal cord injury can cause skeletal loss. An increase in bone mass is caused by activities that apply stress to bone and increase muscle mass and strength. Extreme exercise is not necessary. Even mild forms of exercise that improve agility and balance can be beneficial.
Weight-bearing exercise means carrying your body weight in activities as simple as:
Strength-training exercises can include the use of resistance machines or inexpensive equipment:
Balance work should begin with a chair for support, especially if you already have osteoporosis. While holding the chair, practice standing on one foot at a time. Gradually, work up to balancing on one foot without using the chair.
Studies show that exercising for 45 to 60 minutes three times a week maintains bone strength. Your bone gains start to diminish if you stop exercising, so vary your exercise routine to stay interested. It is never too late to reduce your risk of osteoporotic fracture!
For more, see Exercise for Your Bone Health from the National Institutes of Health.
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