Thursday, June 2, 2011

Another reason to stay fit: Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is something not many of us think about until it's too late. Even though many of the risk factors are not under our individual control, most risk factors are.
Why worry about osteoporosis? Let's get some facts out there about it:
- Eighty percent of those affected by osteoporosis are women
- Osteoporosis is responsible for 1.5 million hip, wrist, vertebral, and other site fractures annually
- While osteoporosis is often thought of as an older person's disease, it can strike at any age.
Osteoporosis is usually characterized by the dowager's hump but obviously it affects much more than just your back and posture. Bone mass in women reaches its peak sometime in the early 30s and remains relatively constant until menopause. Then, as estrogen levels drop, the bones begin to lose mass.
Risk Factors Under Our Control:
- Low level of physical activity
- Low level of calcium intake
- Lifestyle habits: smoking, caffeine, and alcohol use
- Inadequate fluoride level in water supply
- Being confined indoors
- Ingestion of drugs
Calcium alone will not prevent osteoporosis. Estrogen and exercise are also key players in this condition. Some studies suggest that premenopausal women should be consuming 1,000- 1,500mg of calcium a day to prevent bone loss.
Physical activity is just as important to bone health as it is for muscle strength. Believe it or not, exercising does build bones. Women who engage in weight-bearing exercise (walking, jogging, running, tennis) have been shown to have greater bone density than women who participate in non-weight-bearing exercise (swimming, gardening).
So get moving and stay moving - we are all aging and there are many ways we can enhance our days, weeks, months and years. The best way is by committing ourselves to exercise and good nutrition.

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