As we age, so do our bones …. and not like a good bottle of red. Bones become brittle due to a myriad of factors such as genes, and insufficient calcium, vitamin D and exercise, but there are a number of steps you can take to lessen your risk of developing the low bone density disease, osteoporosis. This week is Healthy Bone Action Week and women and men are being encouraged to take action on their bone health.
There are three recommended strategies common to all throughout life:
- Engage in exercise specifically targeted for bone
- Optimise your daily dietary calcium
- Spend a little time in the sun to increase your vitamin D
As a bone exercise expert, I would recommend choosing an exercise program that really loads the skeleton at high intensity and impact.
Simply walking, swimming, or practicing yoga will not be enough to build bone. In fact, the latest research proves that heavy resistance training is the most effective exercise for bone and is safe, even for older women and men as long as it is supervised, and scaled to fitness level.
Activities that are weight-bearing (done on your feet) are necessary, so jogging, skipping, and high impact aerobics will also benefit your bones.
The great news is that a low bone density doesn’t have to be a forever disease – simple but dedicated changes to your activity levels and performing the right kind of exercise to improve bone health, balance and strength will significantly lessen your risk of developing osteoporosis or fracturing.
Once you have developed osteoporosis, unless you proactively treat it and improve your bone mass and strength, you are at risk of suffering a fracture, from something as innocuous as a fall from standing height.
Fractures often start the ball rolling on a number of other negative health conditions and can even lead to death, with one in 20 deaths in 2013 directly caused by, or contributed to, by musculoskeletal conditions.
So maintaining your bone mass through exercise and preventing falls is the secret to preventing musculoskeletal-disease and related death.
By Dr Belinda Beck, Professor Griffith University and co-founder of The Bone Clinic