Women 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