Let’s Talk Bone Health: Tips for Healthy Aging

This month I want to talk about bones.

I know we’ve all heard of Osteoporosis and how as we age, our bone density tends to decrease naturally but do you know how to slow down the process?

Once again, being a woman has its drawbacks and unfortunately, a decrease in bone density is often more pronounced in women, especially after menopause.

Throughout our life, bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt in a process called remodelling. 

During our ‘growing’ years, bone formation usually outpaces bone resorption, leading to an increased bone density. However, as we get older, resorption starts to outpace bone formation, resulting in decreased bone density.

In women, the drop in oestrogen levels during menopause accelerates bone loss. Oestrogen plays a vital role in maintaining bone density by slowing down the rate of bone resorption.

Other factors that can have a detrimental effect on our bone density are poor nutrition ( a diet high in sugar & processed foods, caffeine and fizzy drinks) lack of physical activity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and certain medications can all accelerate that bone loss.

Often, we have no idea what’s going on with our bones until we perhaps have a fall and break something.  There are however a few things to be aware of as we get older.

A stooped posture, chronic back pain and height loss can all be caused by vertebral fractures or compression and the obvious one is bones breaking quite easily.

Don’t panic though, it’s not all doom and gloom.  There are plenty of things that we can do to increase & stabilise our bone density as we get older and many of them can just become part of everyday life.

  • Exercise – Weight-bearing and high impact exercises like walking, jogging, weightlifting, and dancing stimulate our bone growth. Strength and resistance training also helps build and maintain bone density.  I know I’m always harping on about our Lift Lean courses, but these really are perfect for helping to increase bone density as we use weights, our own body & resistance bands – win win.
  • Diet – A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is essential for bone health. Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, fortified foods, sesame seeds and supplements if necessary, can help meet our calcium and vitamin D needs.  We also need to be aware that a high sugar and a diet high in processed foods can impact the way our body absorbs calcium so even though we think we’re eating some of the right foods, we could actually be leeching the calcium from our bones instead.
  • Lifestyle choices – Smoking and alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium which again negatively impacts our bone health.
  • Medications – Unfortunately there are some medications that can have a negative impact on our bone health but there are also some that can have a positive impact like bisphosphonates, hormone therapy, or other bone-building drugs to increase bone density. These should obviously be used under medical supervision.

If you are concerned, especially if you have gone through menopause then it’s worth contacting your healthcare provider and asking to be referred for a Dexa scan.

Remember that it’s never too late to work on improving bone health.  

Our classes and courses all focus on the type of exercise that will not only improve bone density but also improve balance and posture but also look at what we are eating and how to adjust accordingly.

sandra harnett fitness