If the body can be compared to a building, then the bones are the frames. Without strong bones, the whole thing would collapse. And that’s exactly what happens with your body when good care is not taken of bones. Over time, the body loses more and more bone, until one develops osteoporosis and it “collapses,” or starts suffering from fractures. About half of all women over 50 and about one out of every four men develop osteoporosis. The good news is that diet and exercising can help you strengthen your bones and maintain good health for a long time.
Calcium, protein, and vitamin D are the three key elements required to build stronger bones and prevent osteoporosis. They are largely made up of a protein -collagen-bound together by calcium. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, so it can do its job of building strong bones.
Calcium and protein
There are a lot of ways to get calcium in the diet. Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese have plenty of calcium as well as protein. Other options include
- Fortified juices, cereals, and oatmeal
- Beans and legumes
- Dark leafy vegetables, like broccoli
- Salmon and sardines with bones
- Certain nuts like almonds
Often known as the key that unlocks calcium in the body, vitamin D sources include
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna
- Cod liver oil
- Fortified dairy products
- Fortified cereals
- Beef liver
Like muscles, bones also respond to stresses placed on them. So as one strengthens the muscles with exercise, one will automatically strengthen the bones too. Exercises that help in managing osteoporosis are
- Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, running, jogging and dancing help you to move against gravity and puts stress on your muscles. The higher the impact of activity the greater the benefit to the bones. Although swimming is a great exercise for cardiovascular fitness, walking or jogging usually provide better strengthening of the bones. A regular regime of brisk walking for older people may help maintain bone strength.
- Resistance and strength training are ideal choices even though they are not high-impact exercises. Building lean muscles and strong bones is possible with the help of weight machines, free weights, yoga, and pilates. The benefit of increased leg strength may also help prevent falls and hip fractures that frequently accompany osteoporosis. These exercises should be done 2-3 times a week.
- Balance exercises help prevent falls by increasing lower body strength and also strengthen the legs. But instead of using weights, these exercise focus on using balance exercises to build strength. A popular form of balance exercise is Tai Chi. These exercises are gentle on bones and muscles and can be done every day.
To prevent fractures, one should not perform exercises that require one to curl the spine forward. These exercises include sit-ups and toe touches. When exercising, one should try not to twist the spine if one is at a higher risk of fractures. The bone mass will likely decrease if one stops exercising for an extended period of time. That is why it is essential that one continues an exercise program to truly help maintain healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis.