As a woman who wants to stay active and vibrant through life, you may value exercise for what it does for your muscles, but have you ever considered how what you are doing is affecting the health of your bones? 

The National Osteoporosis Foundation lists some startling statistics regarding bone density. Did you realize that over 50 percent of women and up to 25 percent of men over the age of 50 will sustain an osteoporotic bone fracture within their lifetime? That’s frightening considering that following a hip fracture, only 15 percent of people over the age of 50 are able to walk across a room unaided. And nearly a quarter of those sustaining a hip fracture will die in the year following the fracture.

What may seem even more distressing is that our bone density peaks by around age 20. Does that mean that we give up after age 20 because it’s all downhill from there?  Of course not. It’s about looking at the hand you’re dealt and taking steps to maximize what factors you have control over, to keep you (and those you care about) living a great life. Let’s start by examining what you can and cannot control.

Non-modifiable risk factors

  • Advanced age
  • Female
  • Caucasian or Asian
  • Family history of osteoporosis or hip fracture
  • Low body mass index/small frame (weighing less than 127 lbs)
  • Some medical conditions or the medications used to treat them (i.e. celiac disease, asthma, thyroid issues, premature menopause, type 2 diabetes, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, neurological conditions, etc.)

Lifestyle risk factors that ARE modifiable

  • Alcohol consumption (more than 3 drinks per day)
  • Low calcium intake
  • Inadequate vitamin D
  • Insufficient physical activity
  • Smoking and/or second hand smoke
  • Falling or poor balance (because having a single fracture changes the mechanics in your spine, leaving you more susceptible to further fractures)

In the video above, I discuss and demonstrate workout recommendations (weight-bearing exercise, walking, running, jumping, resistance training, and more) and moves you’ll want to avoid (spine flexion, extreme sidebending, and forced hip rotation) if you have low bone density.

Remember, knowledge is power. As mothers, we need to be aware that what our kids and teens are eating and how much they’re moving will have a significant impact later in life. As daughters, we need to look to our parents to help predict what hand we may have been dealt in the genetic lottery so that we can start taking steps to improve our best outcomes. Finally, next time you see someone over age 50, whether it’s your best friend or your mother, help spread the information so they can keep their bones and bodies healthy for life.


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