Ain’t no bones about it—osteoporosis is a tough thing to prevent! But here at Hitch Fit, our goal is to help you remain healthy and fit for life. Check out the ins-and-outs of osteoporosis…and most importantly, how to prevent it.

Being the most common type of bone disease, osteoporosis presents a serious threat to many people. Researchers estimate that 1 in every 5 American women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis and that about half of all women over 50 experience fractures of the hip, wrist or vertebra. That being said, it is important not only to become familiar with the osteoporosis, but also to learn about what measures can be taken in order to prevent it.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis involves the thinning of bone tissue or decrease in bone density over time. The disease comes about when the body fails to create enough new bone or when it reabsorbs too much old bone. As you get older, your body reabsorbs calcium and phosphate from the bones. This causes the bones to weaken and become more susceptible to fracturing, even without injury. People generally do not find out that they have osteoporosis until they experience bone breaks or fractures.

How Do You Get Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis can be caused by a variety of factors pertaining mostly to diet and exercise. Calcium and vitamin D are responsible for keeping up the strength and health of your bones, so not including sufficient amounts of either of them in your diet can be risky. At the same time, smoking cigarettes, consuming large amounts of alcohol and lack of exercise can cause your bones to weaken.

Unfortunately, there are some factors contributing to osteoporosis that we have no control over. For example, age is one of the main causes. As the body ages, it tends to absorb calcium from the bones, causing them to become weaker. Also, issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease and drops in estrogen or testosterone often take calcium away from the bones and lead to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Prevention Tips

Although osteoporosis is a common disease and many people experience it at some point in their lives, it is avoidable. However, because it is a difficult disease to reverse, prevention is the most important treatment. The most effective and most accessible measures you can take to ensure that your body steers clear of the disease are through regular diet and exercise.

• Diet and Osteoporosis:

Your bones need calcium. Therefore, the most effective measure you can take is to allow yourself plenty of calcium and vitamin D intake. Calcium fortifies your bones while vitamin D helps your bones absorb the calcium.

According to the National Institutes of Health and National Osteoporosis Foundation, adults who are 19 to 50 years old should consume 1,000 mg of calcium each day and adults who are over age 50 should get 1,200 mg each day. Foods such as nonfat milk, low-fat yogurt, broccoli, cauliflower, salmon, tofu and leafy green vegetables are filled with calcium and will help you reach those marks.

But calcium makes people gain weight, right? Wrong! You can get just as much calcium from fat-free products as you can from others containing more fat. For example, one 8-ounce glass of skim milk contains 300 mg of calcium, which is the same amount found in a glass of whole milk.

While it is important to eat calcium-rich foods, it is also necessary to avoid foods full of phosphorous. High-phosphorous products such as red meat and soft drinks lead to bone decay. Also, excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol have proven to reduce the amount of calcium absorbed by the body.

• Exercise and Osteoporosis:

Exercising also helps people prevent osteoporosis. A daily workout routine that includes both muscle strengthening as well as aerobic activities maintains the strength of your bones and helps them remain fracture-free.

Studies have shown that exercises that put stress on the bones such as running, walking, tennis, ballet, stair climbing, aerobics and weightlifting help reduce bone loss. In order to get the most out the exercises, it recommended that you do it at least 3 times a week for 30-45 minutes…but you know here at Hitch Fit, we like to go above and beyond!

It’s time to say goodbye to osteoporosis and hello to a healthy lifestyle, strong bones and all! And the next time your mother tells you to drink all your milk with dinner, you may think twice, won’t you? After all, calcium does the body good (in more ways than one!).