You Can Stave Off Osteoporosis   

You Can Stave Off Osteoporosis

Like the trunk and branches of a tree that decide its size and shape, your bones give form to your body. They also protect your organs and support your muscles, helping you move around and about. By your late 20s, however, you've reached the peak of your bone mass, which begins to ebb slowly in your 30s as more bone tissue is lost than restored. In time, this could lead to osteoporosis, a condition marked by weak bones caused by a loss of bone mass, as well as by a change in bone structure.

About 80 percent of people with osteoporosis are women. However, both men and women older than 50 are at risk for developing osteoporosis. One in two women and one in six men in this age group will fracture a bone because of osteoporosis.

Risk factors that increase your chances for developing osteoporosis include:
1. Small bone structure
2. Family history of osteoporosis
3. Previous fracture, especially after age 50
4. Being postmenopausal
5. Anorexia nervosa
6. Cigarette smoking
7. Alcohol abuse
8. Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D
9. Sedentary lifestyle
10. Certain medications, including glucocorticoids, thyroid hormone replacements and epilepsy drugs

You can take steps to help prevent osteoporosis:
1. Get 1,000 to 1,500 mg of calcium each day.
2. Get 400 to 800 international units of vitamin D each day.
3. Quit smoking.
4. Don't overindulge in alcohol.
5. Talk to a medical professional about medical conditions or medications you take that could put you at risk for osteoporosis.
Any weight-bearing activity helps build bones. But weight lifting does the most to prevent osteoporosis over time because it increases your strength and muscle mass, as well as bone density.
Doctor recommends that you:

1. Exercise for 30 minutes a day, two to three times a week. Anything less won't work your bones hard enough. But don't overdo it either.
2. Warm up. Do light aerobic exercises and easy stretches for 7 to 10 minutes before your workout to avoid injury.
3. Focus on the hip, spine and lower back. These are the main fracture sites. The leg press, squats and lunges are all good.
4. Do fewer reps at heavier weights. If you can barely do two sets of six to eight reps, you're at the right weight. Doctor suggests 20 to 25 minutes of weight training.
5. Gradually add weights. Determine the highest number of reps you can do or the most weight you can lift. Then shoot for 70 percent to 80 percent of that maximum capability-gradually.
6. Do cardio weight-bearing exercises. To head off osteoporosis, row, bike, hike or dance for at least 7 to 10 minutes of your workout. Double that if you want an aerobic workout.
7. Cool down. Repeat your warm-up routine for about 5 minutes, to shift your body back to relative inactivity. 

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