Maintaining strong bones is key to a healthy lifestyle, especially as we age. Each year the number of fractures related to osteoporosis in women is greater than the combined number of heart attacks, strokes, and cases of breast cancer. Osteoporosis is both preventable and treatable, yet nearly ten million women have osteoporosis. With a disease like osteoporosis that you often cannot see or feel, it is important to educate young women early on so that they can build bone density now to be used later in life when they need it most.
These four simple steps that can help women protect themselves from the bone loss and fractures that can occur as a result of osteoporosis:
1. Stay active by exercising 3-4 times a week — this includes strength training and weight bearing exercise (walking.)
2. Know your risk and ask your doctor about tests that can detect osteoporosis (annual bone density screening.)
3. Help prevent fractures by getting enough calcium and asking your doctor if prescription medications are needed.
According to Dr. Ken Howayeck of Five-Star Online Testing, “undergoing an annual bone density test helps determine if bone loss is progressing at a more rapid rate.” Attaining testing frequency at this `greater’ rate likely necessitates bringing the more-appealing ultrasound method very much into the picture. Dr. Howayeck’s nationwide, growing company provides this mobile ultrasound bone density testings at health fairs, clinics, corporate wellness events and community outreach programs. Most importantly, he warns that, “inactivity allows bones to weaken and thin.”
Take every opportunity to move. Two types of exercise are especially beneficial:
• Weight bearing exercise – This involves getting your muscles and bones working against gravity. Walking, dancing, elliptical machines, and gardening can promote bone mass since repeated impact causes bones to get stronger. Parking farther away from work or a store can help you incorporate this type of exercise into your everyday routine.
• Strength training exercises – This involves using free weights (dumbbells and barbells) and machines. Resistance training strengthens the muscles around your bones which, in turn, will make you less prone to injury. Plus, strength training will improve bone density. Upper body strength training will improve bone density in the wrists, and lower body exercises, such as Squats and Lunges, will help load the femur bones in the legs.
The Bone-Building Basics
o Eat a balanced diet that’s rich in calcium and Vitamin D
o Perform strength training exercises 2-3 times a week
o Walk a minimum of three times a week
o Quit smoking
o Drink moderate amounts of caffeine and alcohol, or don’t drink either
Getting that Calcium
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, many women consume less than half the recommended daily amount of calcium (between 1,000 to 1,300 mg). Here are some foods that are especially good sources of calcium:
o Dairy Products – milk, yogurt, kefir and natural cheeses (read the label – – no processed!)
o Fruits and Vegetables – broccoli, bokchoy, turnip greens, Swiss chard, dried figs and oranges.
o Fish and Shellfish – sardines, shrimp, lobster, and trout.
o Nuts and Legumes – almonds, hazelnuts, black-eyed peas, and garbanzo beans.
o Fortified Foods – cereal, orange juice, and other foods that have added calcium.
A little unknown fact is that one tablespoon of unsulphured blackstrap molasses contains six percent of the calcium we need on a daily basis! It also contains eight percent iron, and six percent magnesium. It’s a secret energy food that’s nutrient-rich. Drink it straight off the spoon or you may want to mix it in with your morning coffee.
Taking action on behalf of your bones now will help you stay fit, look better and feel better, too. It’s never too late to get started. If you already haven’t done so, get a bone density test now so that you have a baseline to compare to later in life. Some physicians recommend annual bone density testings especially after the age of 50. Your test results will determine what you need to do in order to have strong and healthy bones for life.