We don’t usually think of them this way, but our bones are living tissue. They change throughout our lives. When bones are healthy, they are constantly renewing themselves by breaking down old bone and building up new bone. But when age or other factors cause our bones to break down faster than they can be replaced, our bones begin to weaken. This can lead to loss of bone mass, or osteoporosis.
Steps in the Right Direction
If you're concerned about or have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, here are 5 things you can do to better manage bone health:
1. Stay Fit
If you’re avoiding exercise because you’re afraid it will lead to a fracture, talk to your doctor. Using your muscles, in ways your doctor approves of, can help protect your bones. Your doctor may recommend weight-bearing exercises, resistance and strength training, or other activities to improve your flexibility, stability and balance.
2. Be Active
Don’t let osteoporosis keep you from doing what you love. Tell your doctor about the activities you enjoy to see which choices are right for you to continue. You may be surprised to learn how helpful certain activities, such as swimming, gardening, dancing, yoga and tai chi, can be for toning muscles and improving bone health and balance.
3. Use Supplements
Calcium is an important mineral for keeping your bones healthy. If you don’t get enough through the food you eat, ask your doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare provider to help you choose a calcium supplement that’s right for you. Your body also needs vitamin D, which helps you absorb calcium properly. Many people need to take a supplement to get enough vitamin D. Your doctor can check your vitamin D level with a blood test.
4. Stop Smoking
Smoking can make you lose bone mass faster. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, after age 30, smokers lose bone mass 1.5 to 2 times faster than nonsmokers. So along with the many other health benefits of avoiding or quitting smoking, you can add better bone health to the mix.
5. Prevent Falls
There are many things you can do to lower your risk of falling, such as:
Wear supportive shoes
Choose shoes with rubber or other non-slip soles
Don’t walk in socks or slip-on slippers
Use grab bars to get in and out of the shower
Make sure your bed is easy to get in and out of
Look around your house for things that could trip you, such as electrical cords
Ensure all walkways are clear, well lighted and free of clutter
Put a nonskid rubber mat in your shower or bathtub
Remove throw rugs
Have your hearing and vision checked regularly
Ask your doctor if any medications you take could make you dizzy
6. Get Support
If you have osteoporosis or are caring for someone who does, joining an Osteoporosis Support Group can be a great way to connect with others who share your concerns and learn from their experiences. Many of these support groups have regularly scheduled meetings that give members access to emotional support, tips for healthier living, news about treatments or medications, and more. Check the National Osteoporosis Foundation site for support groups listed by state. At the time of this post, there were 21 states with active support groups.