Osteoporosis, weakened bones, affects about 10 million Americans. But low bone density is even more common. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about half of adults over 50 are at risk for a fracture. How can you minimize your risk and keep your bones strong?
Some of the factors that lead to osteoporosis can’t be avoided. Genetics is chief among these. If your grandparents and parents suffered from weak bones and fractures, your chances of osteoporosis are higher than average.
That doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do, however. It just may mean you’ll have to try harder to keep your bones strong. Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium is important. Not smoking–or quitting if you do smoke–is just as critical.
Exercise throughout our lives sends crucial signals to our bones that we need them and helps keep them strong. To get the best benefit from exercise, it should be something in which the foot hits the ground: walking, skipping, jumping, dancing, tennis, etc. Other forms of exercise such as swimming or biking are also good for your health, but they do less to keep your bones strong.
Learn how doctors detect osteoporosis with DXA technology, and how they treat it if they discover you have it. You’ll also find out why men too need to be concerned about bone health.
Abby G. Abelson, MD, FACR, is Chair of the Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases of the Orthopaedic and Rheumatology Institute and Education Program Director in the Department of Rheumatologic and Immunologic Diseases at Cleveland Clinic. Her book is The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Osteoporosis.