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Build Up Your Bones

Osteoporosis, or "brittle bones," affects approximately 25 million people; 80% of which are women. Unfortunately, Osteoporosis often goes undetected until there is a broken bone or a loss in height.

Some Not-so-healthy Choices

Some lifestyle choices that may increase your chances of Osteoporosis are:

  • Smoking reduces the effectiveness of estrogen in the body and is an important changeable risk factor for Osteoporosis.
  • Drinking a lot of caffeine increases the loss of calcium in the urine. Also, if you are replacing milk with caffeinated beverages, you are doubling your bone loss since your calcium intake is reduced and the caffeine is eliminating even more calcium from your body.
  • Drinking alcohol is also believed to be toxic to our bone forming cells in our bodies.
  • Certain medications can also effect bone loss.

Exercise is Key!

Exercise is one of the most important and beneficial changes we can make to maintain bone strength and slow down bone loss. This will also help you build muscle strength, balance, coordination and flexibility, all of which will help prevent falls and fractures. The good news is you don't have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to reap the benefits of exercise!

Some Exercise Do's:

  • Start slowly. Try beginning with stretching your back and working your abdominals (stomach). By starting slowly, you help prevent injuring yourself.
  • Walk! Again, start off slowly and gradually build up your momentum. A good walking program to increase bone strength includes a three mph pace for 50 minutes, five days a week. This is a fairly quick walk and may take some time to build up to. Click here for tips on starting a walking program.
  • Pump Iron! Try lifting lightweights or using resistance bands. Even using cans of vegetables or bottles of water works! The goal here is to try to offer a little resistance without over-exerting yourself.
  • On Your Toes! Try some new activities to help improve balance and coordination. While holding onto the wall or a chair, try standing on one foot or rising to your toes. Practice getting up from a chair, taking a short walk around the room, and returning to the chair in a seated position.

Some Exercise Don'ts:

We need to always be careful not to over-exert ourselves or to try exercises that might cause us to lose our balance and fall.

  • No unsupported forward bending such as toe touches, sit-ups, or rowing machines.
  • No jumping, running or high impact aerobics.
  • No exercises that may increase your risk of falling  such as step aerobics, trampolines or jumping rope.
  • No abduction/adduction (moving your leg out to the side then back again) while using weights or resistance.

Check your local OASIS catalog for a variety of classes that can help you incorporate exercise into your life. Remember, while exercise is very beneficial, it is also important to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.

For More Information

Medline Plus, from the National Library of Medicine, offers information on diagnosis and treatment of Osteoporosis, plus the latest news on clinical trials.

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