It’s a fact of life: as we age both our bone and muscle mass tend to decrease. And when it comes to bone health women are especially at risk.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), 54 million Americans have low bone density or osteoporosis and about one in two women (and one in four men) over the age of 50 will break a bone as a result.
What’s more, results from a recent study in China predict that osteoporosis-related fractures in the country will double by 2035.
It’s not necessarily a “sexy” health topic, but the statistics continue to show that more people worldwide need to start getting serious about taking care of their bones.
This is especially true for women, who are more at risk because of decreased estrogen levels as a result of aging and menopause, and because biologically they tend to have smaller, thinner bones.
According to the NOF:
- About 80 percent of the 10 million Americans who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis are women.
- It’s estimated that a women’s risk for breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk for breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
- In the five to seven years after menopause, a woman can lose up to 20 percent of her bone density.
- In addition to age and gender, you may be at greater risk for osteoporosis if you’re consuming too much protein, sodium, caffeine or alcohol, you don’t exercise, you’re overweight, or you smoke.
Aging is inevitable, but according to the NOF, osteoporosis and broken bones are not a normal part of the process; there are a number of preventative measures you can take to protect your bone health. In fact, the NOF says prevention should begin in childhood but you’re never too young or old to take the initiative.
The organization’s top preventative tips include making sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D through a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, not smoking and limiting your intake of alcoholic beverages to two to three drinks per day.
Additionally, when it comes to exercise, there are specific types of workouts that have been proven to help increase bone density.
A recent study found that high impact activities like running, gymnastics, basketball or plyometric exercises are most effective at building bone mass and protecting bone health.
The American College of Sports Medicine also suggests that practicing regular resistance training (like with free weights, resistance bands or bodyweight exercises) is an effective way to build and support bone mineral density.
Check out the resources below for more measures you can take (including specific exercises) to protect your bone health.