Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to Maintain Bone Health

How to Maintain Bone Health
by Anne Kelly

The body is just so amazing.  Bones actually increase in density the more we use them for everyday living.  Lifting, walking, running, pulling, stretching, all signal to your bones that you need them to stay strong, and to grab nutrients from your body to keep building bone.  You probably have heard the scary statistics on how fast we lost bone after the age of 30, especially women!  But what you don’t hear as much is that you can slow that decline dramatically with simple steps. 
  •  Calcium.  Learn about how you can add calcium to your diet and if you should supplement with calcium.  There is a lot online about this, but you must check with your Doctor for maximum results.  Did you know that your body can only absorb about 400 mg at a dose?  Did you know Vitamin D is an important booster of calcium absorption?  Did you know Calcium can interfere with other drugs and reduce their effectiveness?  Your doctor can help you figure this out.  Or ask for a referral to a good dietitian.
  • Eat Well.  Lots of green and some dairy.  I like goat products as they are easier to digest.  But don’t go overboard on the dairy.  You body can only absorb so much at one time.  Did you know cottage cheese doesn’t have much calcium in it?  There is some evidence that diet drinks aren’t so great for bones, so check it out if you are a diet soda fan. 
  • Weight Bearing Activities.  As much as I love to swim and do aqua classes, to build your bones you need to use those bones!  That means fast walking, using weights, and increasing those weights as you get stronger.  Jumping rope is fabulous, climbing stairs, lifting hay bales, gardening and doing the heavy work, volunteering for neighborhood cleanups and lifting and playing with 2 year-olds. Those of us who are heavier usually have denser bones.  Makes sense!  But don’t worry about losing weight, it will be offset by your increased activity to keep your bones strong.
  • Serious bone loss?  Don’t despair.  Amazing medications are coming.  Ask your Doctor.  Don’t take a diagnosis of weak bones sitting down!  Be your own advocate.  You want to be a feisty old woman, so pull on the tennies and start walking!
  • Consider a personal trainer or class.  Some of these weight bearing activities are hard work.  They are a lot more fun to do with other people.  Considering joining a boot camp class that does planks, push ups and even some pull ups!  You don’t have to do the exercises well or even completely to get the bone benefit.  And whining and sweating with friends is a benefit, too!  Classes can keep you distracted and working hard.  They often use different tools and toys to keep you motivated.
  • You’ll love the results!  Your balance will improve, too, and your risk of a break will go way down. You’ll notice you are so much stronger not just in your bones but muscles, too.  Your clothes will look great because your posture will be the envy of your friends.  

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