Middle age men don’t experience rapid loss of bone mass that women experience following menopause. But by 65 or 70, men and women are losing bone mass equally. And the ability to process calcium, an essential nutrient for bone health, decreases in both sexes. Excessive loss of bone mass causes bone to become fragile and prone to fracture. Fractures resulting from osteoporosis most commonly occur in the hip, spine, and wrist, and may cause permanent disability.
Things you can do to delay bone loss are:
- Eat lots of calcium and vitamin D to help keep your bones and joints healthy. Dairy foods, calcium-set tofu, green leafy vegetables, and small canned fish with soft bones (e.g. sardines) provide the most readily available sources of dietary calcium.
- Older adults should eat at least three servings of calcium and vitamin D every day.
- If you take a calcium supplement or multivitamin, be sure to choose one that contains vitamin D.
- Eat a well balanced diet with plenty of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Regular exercise is good for your health, no matter how old you are.
Exercising regularly reduces your risk of osteoporosis…and
- Reduces your overall functional decline caused by aging
- Helps to maintain or lose weight by burning calories
- Strengthens your heart and lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol therefore reducing your risk of coronary heart disease and strokes.
- Keeps your joints moving and reduces joint aches and pains caused by arthritis
- Reduces the risk of bone fractures and other injuries, or recover faster if you are injured
- May reduce your need for a cane
- Helps to relieve stress, gives you energy and generally improves your mood
- Increases your strength and independence
Aim to exercise for at least 30-60 minutes/ 4-5 days per week. To get started, pick an activity you like; walking, jogging, tennis etc. Then set goals for yourself such as, “this week I will jog for 15 minutes for 3 days”. Once you are comfortable at that level, slowly increase the duration and number of days.
Whatever activity you decide to do remember to do the following:
- Consult your healthcare provider about ways to increase your physical activity without injuring yourself
- Stop immediately and consult your healthcare provider if you experience pain, nausea, dizziness or shortness of breath
- Drink plenty of water
- Warm up before all your exercises and stretch before and after
- Wear light clothing and the correct shoes for your exercise
- You can also count your daily chores as exercise such as, vacuuming your house, cleaning your car or walking your dog
Getting and staying healthy can be fun!