Osteoporosis affects more than 10 million Americans, according to the National Osteoporosis Association. Nearly 80 percent of these individuals are women. This becomes more common as women age. Studies show that one in two women over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. For women, the risk of breaking a hip is as likely as their risk of contracting breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer. There are a few ways to help women prevent osteoporosis and improve their overall bone and joint health.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis occurs when the bones become brittle and can then break easier. This occurs naturally with age but is much more common in women. When women go through menopause their estrogen levels drop significantly. Estrogen levels dropping leads to rapid and severe bone loss in women. Studies show that women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone density during the five or seven years after menopause.
Dietary changes can boost bone density
When it comes to improving overall bone and joint health, calcium and vitamin D are essential. Calcium helps improve bone density and strengthen existing bones. Vitamin D is essential in order for the calcium to be absorbed in the body. Making sure to eat a balanced diet will help ensure that you are meeting the dietary needs your body requires for healthy bones and joints. Other habits that can negatively impact bone density are consuming alcohol in excess and smoking.
Hormones play a role in bone and joint health for women
For women, in particular, an imbalance of hormones plays a significant role in bone loss. Depending on the individual, some doctors prescribe estrogen or progesterone hormone therapy to help control menopausal symptoms and prevent bone loss. It’s extremely important to discuss this course of treatment with your medical professional.
Work up a sweat to prevent osteoporosis
Exercise can also help women prevent osteoporosis and other adverse effects of low bone density. By strengthening their muscles and skeletal structure, women can decrease their chances of suffering from bone and joint injuries. The best exercises to strengthen bones are weight-bearing and resistance exercises. The resistance in these exercises helps strengthen not only the muscles but the bones, which means they are less likely to be injured.
It’s recommended that individuals exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes each day. Exercises that are ideal include lifting weights, dancing, walking, hiking, jogging, and playing tennis. Also, these exercises can be modified to meet you at your fitness level.
As women age, osteoporosis becomes a more glaring issue. In order to prevent major injuries occurring it’s essential that women discuss a preventive plan against osteoporosis with their doctor. Together they can formulate a plan to help prevent the adverse effects of osteoporosis.