Did you know that bone loss is a natural process that begins in your mid-20s? Although genetics are a major risk factor for osteoporosis and bone loss is an inevitable part of aging, there are many things you can do in your daily life to reduce your rate of bone loss. If you let your bones become weak, brittle, and thin, a fall or even mild bodily stress (such as bending over or coughing) could cause a fracture. Use the tips below if you’re wondering how to prevent osteoporosis.
How to Prevent Osteoporosis
People who live sedentary lifestyles are more likely to develop osteoporosis. Experts recommend that you regularly engage in weight-bearing exercises and activities that contribute to good balance and posture. If you don’t already exercise regularly, try to develop a daily routine that includes aerobic activity (walking is great) and strength training (such as weightlifting). According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), you should aim for 30-40 minutes of exercise on three to four days of each week, and that should include some weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.
- Weight-Bearing Exercises: Weight-bearing exercises require you to move your body against gravity while staying upright. If your bones are healthy, try some high-impact weight-bearing exercises like dancing, high-impact aerobics, hiking, jogging, jumping rope, climbing stairs, and tennis. If you’ve already broken a bone due to osteoporosis or you have a high risk of broken bones, try low-impact weight-bearing exercises like using an elliptical machine, using a stair-step machine, walking on a treadmill (or outside), or doing low-impact aerobics.
- Muscle-Strengthening Exercises: Muscle-strengthening exercises require you to move your body, a weight, or another form of resistance against gravity. Also known as resistance exercises, muscle-strengthening exercises include lifting weights, using elastic exercise bands, using weight machines, lifting your own body weight, and functional movements (like rising onto your toes).
We encourage you to consult a medical professional to find a good exercise program for your age and health condition.
Eat a nutritious diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D.
A healthy diet can help you prevent and manage osteoporosis, so make sure that you’re consuming a nutritious diet full of protein, fruits, and vegetables. Be sure that you consume enough calcium and vitamin D on a daily basis, as these are both crucial for bone production and maintenance. Calcium is a building block of bone tissue, and vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Not sure how to improve your intake of calcium and vitamin D? The following foods should help:
- Calcium: Leafy green vegetables (kale, broccoli, collard greens), milk, oranges, almonds, yogurt, cheese
- Vitamin D: Salmon, herring, sardines, cod liver oil, canned tuna, oysters, shrimp, egg yolk, mushrooms
Avoid tobacco and heavy drinking.
Although experts aren’t sure why exactly, tobacco use plays a part in weak bones (source). In addition, consuming more than two alcoholic drinks per day increases your risk of osteoporosis. As these bad habits can contribute to other health problems as well, we encourage you to limit your use of them.
As you might have noticed, if you’re wondering how to prevent osteoporosis, you really just need to embrace an overall healthy lifestyle. Exercise and nutrition are vitally important factors, and it’s important to avoid unhealthy behaviors like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption as well. For more detailed and personalized advice regarding osteoporosis, talk to your doctor.
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