5 Steps to Help Avoid Osteoporosis

Getting Vitamin D from the SunWomen older than 45 spend more time in the hospital because of osteoporosis than any other chronic disease, including diabetes, heart attack or breast cancer. Once women reach menopause, their risk for osteoporosis increases as bone loss accelerates and bones weaken. In fact, most of the calcium that went into building strong bones was added by the time you turned 17. Now, you need to do the right things to keep your bones strong.

What Can You Do to Stay Strong and Osteoporosis Free?

The International Osteoporosis Foundation points to five strategies women can take to maintain muscle strength, prevent bone loss or manage osteoporosis:

Exercise. Women should get 30 to 40 minutes of physical activity, three to four times each week, including a combination of resistance training and weight-bearing exercise.

Eat a bone-healthy diet. Women should eat foods rich in dietary calcium and protein, along with plenty of fruits and vegetables, in addition to getting vitamin D through sunlight or a supplement.

Kick bad habits. To protect bone health, stop smoking. Drinking heavily can also have a negative effect on bone health. It’s also important to avoid being too thin. Women who are underweight are at higher risk for osteoporosis than those who are a normal weight.

Know your risk factors. It’s essential to get educated about osteoporosis and learn if you are at greater risk for developing the disease. Common risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Going through menopause before age 45
  • Use of medications known as glucocorticoids
  • Having rheumatoid arthritis or malabsorption disorders, such as celiac or Crohn’s disease
  • Women who have broken bones in the past or have a family history of osteoporosis. 

Are you at risk? Take this risk assessment quiz and find out your personal risk factors for developing osteoporosis.

  • Check your bone health. Once women reach menopause, they should visit their doctor to have their bone health and risk for fracture assessed. Women who are diagnosed with bone loss should follow the treatment regimen prescribed by their doctor.

Join the conversation. What exercises do you do? What calcium-rich foods do you eat? Do you have osteoporosis? What treatments have you found to keep your bones strong and healthy?

More information: The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on preventing fractures.

SOURCE: International Osteoporosis Foundation

  7 comments for “5 Steps to Help Avoid Osteoporosis

  1. Maureen
    July 16, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    I too have back problems, gardening works great, walking , dancing . Eating good food and watching your diet. I am always wear my sunscreen . I make sure of that. I have a bone destiny test every year I take my vit d and have that checked once a year.

  2. Kevin
    July 21, 2014 at 10:31 am

    My wife has been diagnosed with osteoporosis. We take walks and she does gardening but here back bothers her and she has lost a few inches in height. She eats a healthy diet. What else can she do?

    • July 29, 2014 at 10:23 am

      We asked Jennifer Baima, MD, a UMass Memorial specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, about your question. Here is her response: “She should talk to her primary care doctor or see an endocrinologist (hormone specialist who deals with bone metabolism). Calcium, vitamin D, and weight bearing exercise are the treatments for osteopenia, which is mid-way between normal and osteoporosis. Once a patient has progressed to osteoporosis, medication management may be necessary in addition to exercise and good nutrition for fracture prevention.

      Height loss may be due to normal aging processes (such as loss of fluid in the spinal discs) or to compression fractures (small fractures of the spine bones related to osteoporosis). Diagnostic testing, such as an X-ray, can distinguish between the two. If it is the compression fractures, she would likely benefit from being on a medicine for fracture prevention.”

      • Kevin
        July 29, 2014 at 10:32 am

        Thanks for the information!

  3. Pam
    June 26, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    I wondered how much sun do I need to get enough vitamin D each day? What do I do in the winter when you’re all bundled up and only your face shows? Thanks.

    • June 30, 2014 at 10:25 am

      Thanks Pam for your question. Look for a future blog focusing on vitamin D. Simply Well checked with Dr. Jennifer Baima who is a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation. She said: “The average recommended sunlight varies with skin color but it is 10 to 15 minutes/day for very fair skinned individuals to maintain normal vitamin D. The recommended daily dose is a hotly debated topic. I see so much deficiency in New Englanders that I tend to recommend more. People should still wear sunscreen. It takes about a shot glass full of sunscreen to cover the body, and it is very common to miss a spot so wearing sunscreen will not prevent making adequate vitamin D.”

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