Having strong bones is very important to ensure we can have the healthy, mobile and independent lifestyle that enables us to enjoy our lives and have the freedom to do the things we want to do. As we age, it becomes harder to maintain strong bones and for people over 50 worldwide, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will experience a bone fracture.
Osteoporosis – which simply means “porous bones” is a silent disease and we often don’t know we have it until we have a fall and break a bone. However, medical experts believe that Osteoporosis can be prevented and a bone fracture can be avoided if you take action early enough.
5 Steps to Healthy Bones and a Fracture-free Future
- Regular weight bearing exercise – such as Pilates! Walking is great for your leg bones but it doesn’t benefit the bones in your upper body very much.
- A diet rich in bone healthy nutrients – Your GP and Govt Health Dept will probably tell you that Calcium and Vitamin D are the most important. Maybe Protein and Vitamin K too. Yet the countries with the highest intake of calcium (as food or supplements) & Protein have the highest levels of Osteoporosis! Individual studies which look at the effect of different diets give conflicting results on what we should be consuming. Research to analyse the findings of all these studies together show Osteoporosis is the result of an affluent diet.
- Healthy Body Fat – maintaining a healthy body fat level is a better indicator of a healthy fat level than BMI. For example – BMI assessments often tell athletes they’re “overweight” which doesn’t make sense. Book a Private 1hr lesson for a full Body Composition Assessment on 11 key metrics with me.
- Get your risk assessed – Risk Assessment Questionnaire from the Institute of Bone Health. If you have a number of risk factors, you should discuss it with your GP.
- Get tested and treated if needed. There are medications that can be prescribed for people with osteoporosis. However, there is a lot of debate about whether these medications reduce the risk of fracture after a fall and some people decide not to take the medications and manage their risk through Steps 1-3. Please do your own research and make an informed decision that works for you!
Sally’s own Osteoporosis Story
My Mum and one of her sisters were diagnosed with Osteoporosis in their 60s. This was surprising because living in New Zealand, dairy products featured strongly in our diets & they had never smoked or consumed much alcohol.
More than 20 years ago…. I decided to have a bone density test to see if I was already at risk, being only in my early 30s at the time. It was a huge shock to learn it was already in the worst 3% and typical of a 70 year old woman!!!
The doctors told me that “at my age” it was not possible to increase my bone density but I should eat more dairy products to maintain my current bone density as long as possible. I felt scared, frail and confused. Was there really nothing I could do about it? How careful did I need to be now?
Eating MORE dairy didn’t make any sense, as I was already consuming dairy most days. So I did my own research and made changes to my diet and started regular weight bearing exercise for my whole body (Mat and Studio Pilates).
Over the next 5 years I had yearly DEXA scans and my bone density gradually improved – much to the surprise of the doctors – and my last DEXA scan showed my bone density had improved to within the normal safe range and is now slightly better than average for my age.
Getting regular weight bearing exercise is one of the best things you can do to maintain and even increase your bone density, WHATEVER YOUR AGE. Prioritise your balance, alignment and strength in a Bone Health class.
If you have osteoporosis, you’re looking to increase your bone density or you’re concerned about how to exercise safely without risking a bone fracture, please CONTACT ME about private or group Pilates or a“Buff Bones” group exercise class.
You can find lots more information about bone health and Osteoporosis on the UK National Osteoporosis Society’s website.