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Osteoporosis and Disease Prevention

Osteoporosis is a disease that is in some ways a modern maladie, as it has become more prevalent due our increased longevity and hence ageing population. The disease puts a suffering individual at an increased chance of bone fracture due to the bones becoming more fragile. The word literally means ‘porous bones’. It is caused when more bone is lost over a period of time than is deposited.

Who’s at risk of osteoporosis? The statistics for osteoporosis are as follows; Over 50% of all women are at risk of developing the disease. Men are at less of a risk, but even so 1 in 12 men will develop it after the age of 50.

There are many treatments that can help with the management of the condition, however, as is often the case, prevention is better than cure. There are 4 easily modifiable areas that could help reduce the risk .

Alcohol.

Excessive alcohol intake (greater than 3 units a day) increases the risk.

Smoking

Inhaling tobacco inhibits the activity of cells called osteoblasts which are responsible for making bone. Decreased activity of these means that there will be a decrease in the amount of healthy new bone being created.

Nutrition

Good nutrition is a vital component in the development and maintenance of healthy bones. Ensuring a good intake of calcium is essential, but it’s also important to include magnesium, zinc and the A, K, E and C vitamins.

Exercise

Our bones  (like our muscular system) actually respond to the stresses that go through them. So, just like when a muscle gets stronger when you lift weights, bone gets stronger and denser if you stress them. Weight (resistance) training is one very effective way of doing this while minimising the impact on the joints. Ironically, too much endurance exercise actually increases your chance of the disease due to the bones being damaged and not having time to repair and regenerate. So, if your fitness  routine consists of pounding the streets or treadmill for hours on end, ensure you are getting enough recovery time between sessions and diversify your training to include resistance work.

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