Being a woman increases your risk of osteoporosis. In fact, 80 percent of people with the condition are female.
“The strength of bone depends on the quality of bone and bone mineral density, and these are impacted by estrogen levels,” says OB/GYN and midlife health specialist Carolyn Wilson, MD. “Peak bone mass for a woman occurs in her thirties. However, as estrogen levels decline due to menopause and other conditions, bone quality and density decrease, and the risk of fracture increases. The most rapid loss of bone in women occurs in the first 1 to 5 years after menopause.”
Improving Bone Health
To lower your risk of osteoporosis, Wilson recommends adopting a healthy lifestyle early in life. Avoid smoking and excessive use of alcohol and be sure you are getting adequate dietary calcium and vitamin D. “The current recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is for women to have 1000 to 1200 mg of calcium daily, primarily from dietary sources, and 600 to 1000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day,” she says.
Make Middle Age More Manageable
Learn more about how to take control of hormonal changes.
Exercises for Osteoporosis Prevention
Also key to maintaining bone health: exercise. Weight-bearing exercise is one of the best things you can do to keep your bones healthy and reduce your risk of osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends these top three exercises for building bone density and reducing osteoporosis risk:
- Weight-Bearing Exercises
- Resistance Training Exercises
- Strength training/free weights
- Water aerobics
- Elastic exercise bands
- Balance, Posture and Functional Exercises
- Toe and heel raises
- Tai Chi
Walking Does Wonders
Walking is one of the simplest ways to keep your bones strong. It’s an easy-to-do weight-bearing exercise with bone-boosting benefits. The best part? You don’t need special equipment and you can do it anywhere!
Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when you walk:
- Set goals and keep to a schedule. Goals and schedules are motivating. Even if you can walk for only five minutes, start there. Shoot for walking four times a week, gradually building time and intensity.
- Stand tall. Proper alignment is important so body weight passes through weight-bearing joints and bones such as the hip and spine.
- Breathe. Maintain comfortable and even breathing. If you feel short of breath, slow down or stop.
- Pay attention to pain. If pain doesn’t go away or requires medication, you may have an injury or stress fracture. Get checked by your physician before continuing.
Before you start a new exercise regimen, always be sure to talk to your doctor.