Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones lose strength, making you more likely to break a bone (fracture) than the average adult. Not everyone who has osteoporosis breaks a bone.
Whilst there are some risk factors that you cannot do anything about (such as getting older, being female, your genes and certain medicines), there are lots of things you can do to help keep your bones healthy, even after a diagnosis of osteoporosis.
- Lift weights or do body weight exercises, such as press ups and planks, to build and maintain strong muscles and dense bones.
- Do balance exercises, e.g. standing on one leg, to reduce the risk of trips and falls. You could try yoga or T’ai Chi classes.
- Ensure you have adequate calcium in your diet as it is vital for bone health. Dairy is a great source but there are plenty of good non-dairy sources such as lentils, sesame seeds, almonds, broccoli, kale, tinned salmon and sardines (with bones), soy beans and tofu.
- Vitamin D is needed to help the body turn calcium into bone. Dietary sources include oily fish, eggs and mushrooms (leave them in sunlight before cooking to increase their vitamin D content). The recommended supplement dose is 10 micrograms (400 units). You may need a supplement if you don’t spend much time outdoors with your skin exposed, especially in winter.
- Exercise regularly – daily walking, and any other impact exercise you enjoy, boosts heart health and keeps bones strong. You could walk carrying light weights or wearing a rucksack to get even more bone benefits.
- Eat some protein at every meal for muscle repair to keep your body healthy and strong. Good sources include lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts and soy.
- Reduce alcohol and caffeine (because they interfere with calcium absorption).
- Reduce or, ideally, stop smoking (because it slows down the cells that build bone).
Following a consultation, we can provide you with personalised advice regarding dietary and lifestyle measures and appropriate exercises.
There are questionnaires that can be helpful to establish your risk of fracture and whether you need to have a bone density scan. If you are concerned about your fracture risk, we can take you through a questionnaire, either during an appointment in clinic, or by phone. Bone density scans are cheap and quick and have a much lower dose of radiation than x-rays.
3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis and there are half a million osteoporotic fractures in the UK every year. However, it’s not just the pain and inconvenience of the fracture itself; people often have long term consequences following an osteoporotic fracture and these can be social and emotional as well as physical, with people becoming depressed, fearful or isolated and unable or unwilling to attend social activities etc. Wherever possible, prevention is better than cure.
I am sharing some of my favourite resources if you would like to delve deeper.
Join Dr Jen to learn about simple things you can do to strengthen your bones, other than drinking milk.
It is believed that prunes (dried plums) contain nutrients that enhance bone formation and reduce bone resorption making them an easy win for bone (and bowel!) health.
The Royal Osteoporosis Society website is jam-packed with excellent advice and information as well as a free specialist nurse helpline.
The Poole Support Group of Osteoporosis Dorset provides an opportunity for people to share their experiences of living with osteoporosis and how to continue living an active and independent life – and there’s a Zumba Gold class at the monthly meetings.
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