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
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.
EXERCISES TO BUILD YOUR BONES
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
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