About AOA

The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until all the children are in bed.
- Unknown

 

Keeping Your Bones Healthy

Keeping Your Bones Healthy

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body. Only about 1% of this calcium supports critical metabolic functions such as vascular contraction and dilation, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormonal secretion. The remaining 99% is stored in our teeth and bones, keeping them dense and strong.

As we age and begin to lose estrogen, we are in danger of developing osteoporosis, a disease in which your bones lose density and become porous and brittle. Over time, bones can become so brittle that a mild fall, or even coughing can cause a fracture. The most common osteoporosis-related factures occur in the hip, wrist and spine. Below are some of the following ways of preventing osteoporosis:

Diet

Adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, along with regular exercise are key factors in preventing osteoporosis. Good sources of calcium in your diet include:

  • Dairy products
  • Dark green leafy vegetables. Especially Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli.
  • Canned salmon or sardines with bones

Vitamin D enables your body to absorb calcium. Many people can get adequate vitamin D from sunlight, but that can depend on where you live and how much time you spend in the sun. If you are housebound, live at high altitudes, or avoid the sun because of risk of skin disease, a daily dose of vitamin D can be obtained through diet or supplements.

Getting The Right Exercise

The right amount of exercise is important for treating and preventing osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise such as weight training, walking, hiking, running, and climbing stairs is the very best for bone health. Swimming and bike riding are great activities for cardiovascular health, but are not considered weight-bearing exercise.

If you have not been exercising regularly, or are considering ramping up your exercise regime, it’s always important to check with your AOA physician beforehand. Additionally, if you already have osteoporosis, it’s important to ask your AOA doctor which activities are safe for you. You may need to protect your spine by avoiding exercises that require bending and twisting, or you may need to avoid high-impact exercise to prevent the risk of fractures.

The Risk From Too Much Exercise

On the other end of the spectrum, too much exercise also can create problems that negatively impact bone health. For example, a common symptom of exercising too much is amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods). While on the face of things it may seem like a minor problem, or perhaps even a benefit, amenorrhea is often the result of a decrease in estrogen levels in the body. Decreased estrogen can lead to osteoporosis. Even young women who participate in overly rigorous exercise regimes, serious athletes, and women who attempt to control their weight by severely restricting their eating are at risk of developing osteoporosis.

The challenge in our society is our belief in the myth that pain, headaches, and missed periods are all a part of the “no pain, no gain” mentality that makes a “champion.” We can come to believe that working harder, working through pain, and pushing ourselves to our limits is what it means to succeed.

If you, or someone you know is exercising so much they have stopped having their regular menstrual period, talk with them about seeing their AOA doctor to assess their overall health. Let them know that the risks of osteoporosis are directly related to decreased estrogen, whether from over over-exercise, menopause, or other estrogen reducing conditions, and are not limited to post-menopausal women.