Fighting Osteoporosis

How regular exercise and a balanced diet can strengthen bones and keep you fit 

By Meghann Finn Sepulveda

Bone loss is a natural part of aging. But, staying healthy and strong can minimize your chances of developing osteoporosis, a disease defined by weak and porous bones, which can lead to fractures and chronic pain. 

The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent and treat osteoporosis, including lifestyle changes related to exercise and diet.  

Effective exercise    

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are two main types of exercises that can build and maintain bone density: weight-bearing exercises and muscle-strengthening exercises.  

“Aim for 150 minutes per week of weight-bearing exercises, which are activities like dancing, jogging, jumping rope and playing tennis,” says Rhonda Zonoozi, an exercise physiologist and health coach at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing. “Walking and low-impact aerobics are also good.”

Muscle-strengthening exercises use resistance to improve bone health with weights, machines, resistance bands or your own body weight and should be performed on both the upper and lower body two to three times per week.

“Other activities that improve balance also help protect bones by reducing the risk of falls and fractures,” Rhonda explains.

The Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing offers strength training and Tai Chi classes. Individuals can also sign up for a personalized consultation and participate in a Senior Fitness Test that measures baseline fitness levels. 

Healthy eating habits

It’s no secret that a well-balanced diet also helps.

“The vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables, as well as high-protein foods, all play a role in good bone health,” says Susan Welter, a registered dietitian at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing. 

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, if you do not get enough calcium in your diet, or if your body does not absorb enough calcium, your bones can weaken.

“The recommended dietary allowance of calcium for adults age 51 and older is 1,200 milligrams per day,” Susan says.

Calcium can be found in dairy products like milk and yogurt, dark green leafy vegetables and in fortified orange juice, tofu and almonds.

“Food is always the preferred method of obtaining bone-building nutrients,” Susan says. “But, if a diet is low in calcium-rich foods, a supplement may be helpful.” 

Attend Rhonda’s presentation “Lifestyle Strategies to Prevent & Treat Osteoporosis,” Wednesday, May 29 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

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