May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month
At Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation, our focus is on educating our patients on healthy lifestyle.
May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become thin and weak, making them more susceptible to fractures, especially as people age. It is estimated that approximately half of all women older than 50 years of age, and as many as one in four men, will suffer broken bones due to osteoporosis. The rate of bone loss varies among individuals and is likely influenced by both genetic factors and lifestyle choices.
According to the most recent statistics by the National Osteoporosis Foundation released in April, approximately 9 million Americans already have osteoporosis, and additional 48 million have osteopenia, or low bone mass. By 2025, experts predict that osteoporosis will be responsible for approximately 3 million bone fractures and $25.3 billion in health care costs annually.
There is a lot you can do in several lifestyle areas to promote bone health. Immediate steps are to stop smoking and limit alcohol intake. Bone health is also an area in which being too thin is a risk factor.
Put your focus on a healthy diet.
- Eat a diet high in vegetables and fruits and low in refined foods, sugar, and alcohol.
- Get vital calcium (for bone health) and other nutrients from foods whenever possible, as opposed to merely supplements (look for a list of food sources online).
Supplementation (vitamins and minerals) is a key recommendation in the area of bone health.
- Make sure you are getting enough Calcium and Vitamin D in particular.
- Consider consulting a dietician for a personalized program.
- Keep a food (and supplement) diary to get a better understanding of your nutrient consumption.
When you think of exercise, weight bearing is key to stimulate bone. Many people enjoy walking, hiking or classes at the gym. Activities such as yoga and tai chi also introduce the important element of balance. At Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation, we are experts in balance. Balance (to reduce the odds of falling and breaking a bone) is one of the most trainable skills. In fact, it is very easy and effective with practice. Any time or anywhere, just stand on one foot, and then try doing the same with your eyes closed. It’s a challenge, but you’ll soon see improvement. Graduate to balancing on an unstable surface, such as a BOSU (half dome) ball or even a pillow or uneven terrain.
Strength training is also important in order to stress a sequence of muscles and bones. Strength training at least twice a week, says the U.S. Surgeon General, is needed to stimulate bone growth. In fact, strength training is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that muscle mass declines precipitously after age 40, but you can ‘turn back the clock’ with a strength training program. We treat athletes of all levels in our practice, and know the value of a strength training program for a variety of needs, from bone health to improved performance and injury prevention.