Corrigan: Keeping bones healthy with age

08/23/2013 11:23 PM

08/23/2013 11:33 PM

She broke her hip. Did the fall cause the break, or did the break cause the fall? It depends. In most cases, the fall causes the break, but it is possible for there to be a break without the fall occurring first or even occurring at all. Thin bones from osteoporosis is the leading cause of fractures and breaks in adults over 50.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 57 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis or low bone mass. Osteoporosis causes more than 2 million bone breaks each year. Although women are at greater risk, men can get it too. In fact, a man over the age of 50 is more likely to break a bone because of osteoporosis than he is to get prostate cancer.

Osteoporosis is a disease in which you lose too much bone or make too little bone. This leaves your bones frail and weak and vulnerable to breaks from even the slightest impact. The disease occurs slowly over time without any warning signs.

There are both controllable and uncontrollable factors that can put you at risk for developing osteoporosis. The uncontrollable factors are being over age 50, female, height loss, family history or a small, thin frame. The controllable factors are poor diet, eating disorders, inactive lifestyle, smoking, drinking alcohol and losing weight. Even some prescription medications can cause bone loss.

Both diet and exercise play a vital role in developing and maintaining good bone health. Foods can either play a positive or negative role in calcium absorption for strong bones. Sodas, caffeine and alcohol can prevent the absorption of calcium, causing bone loss. A well-balanced diet that consists of a variety of healthy foods such as dairy, vegetables, fish and other lean protein sources, limits processed foods and reduces sodium intake is ideal for calcium absorption and strong bones.

Regular physical activity is crucial for optimal bone growth and the maintenance of bone mass and density. The best workout for osteoporosis prevention is one that involves a combination of strength training, weight-bearing activity, small muscle development exercises and stretch and balance exercises, combined with aerobic activities. Posture exercises are also very important. So for those who spend most days hunched over working on a project or at a computer, be sure to take posture breaks to relieve the stress and tension in your spine and neck.

If you are at risk or already have osteoporosis, it is important to seek out a health care professional that can help diagnose, manage or treat the disease.

Missy Corrigan is director of healthy living for the Sumter Family YMCA. She can be reached at or (803) 773-1404.

Tips for prevention:

Avoid processed foods Perform Strength Training Exercises Eat a well-balanced diet Get screened regularly

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