What do 10 million Americans have in common? Osteoporosis: what exactly
is it and how does one prevent it in the first place? As physical
therapists, we evaluate to find a diagnosis and treat accordingly. But
so many times I think we miss the first step of this which is
prevention. What can one do now, before such a diagnosis, to delay the
onset or prevent it completely? My hope is that this information will
inspire you to be a little more active, eat a little healthier, and
celebrate being healthy every day.
Our bodies are constantly forming new bone. When we are young, the new
bone is formed faster than old bone is lost. Peak bone mass is
achieved at some point in our 20’s. At this point we continue to form new bone,
but at a slower rate. As we age, the bone loss may become more than
bone production. In women, bone loss increases after menopause and this is when osteopenia or osteoporosis can occur. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 10 million Americans are estimated to have osteoporosis and 34 million
more have low bone mass, also known as osteopenia which can be a
precursor to osteoporosis.
Research has found that a person can always work on maintaining
healthy bones. Eating a diet high in calcium and Vitamin D and
exercising all influence bone health.
Weight bearing and muscle
strengthening exercises have the most impact on making bones stronger.
Weight bearing exercises can range from hiking (which is in abundance
here in the Pacific Northwest!) and running to dancing and playing
tennis. For people who cannot tolerate higher impact activities, low
impact activities also help keep bones strong. Some low impact
activities include elliptical machines and fast walking. ***The great
thing about weight bearing exercises is that it is something a person
should fit into their daily life for enjoyment.*** Muscle
strengthening exercises include activities that use some form of
weight or resistance against gravity. These include lifting weights
(free weights or weight machines), using resistance bands, or using
your own body weight (Yoga or Pilates). If you do have osteoporosis,
some motions may not be safe to perform and one should check with a
professional for the most appropriate exercises.
Everyone’s life can get hectic, so the good news about exercise is
that it can be performed all in one time frame, or separated into
shorter sessions throughout the day. Weight bearing exercise should be
performed for 30 minutes most days of the week and muscle
strengthening should be performed 2-3 days per week. I encourage you to
take a little time for yourself each day, go for a hike or a walk,
something you enjoy. You will feel better, walk a little taller, and
maybe even find a new hobby you enjoy!
Have a great weekend, Brandis Graves, PT