By Rebekah Rotstein
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women and one in four men over 50 are expected to experience a fracture from osteoporosis in their lives. These stats can be a wake-up call to those middle-aged and older. Yet did you know that osteoporosis can occur at any age? We reach our peak bone mass in our early 30s, making prevention of bone loss a relevant topic for younger people as well. May is National Osteoporosis Awareness & Prevention Month—a good time for everyone to pay attention to bone health.
You can help raise awareness on the importance of bone health by starting with your clients. If they’re doing Pilates, they’ve got a great start on a healthy lifestyle, which is key to building and preserving bone strength. Here are my top 5 important tips for bone health:
1. Exercise with specificity
Include both weight-bearing and resistance training in your exercise regimen. Add extra standing exercises into your programming along with hip, back, shoulder and wrist strengthening. Try Pilates exercises like Climb a Mountain, Side Splits, Chest Expansion, Leg Pulls and Swimming. Include weight training. Mix up your regimen with varying movements. Engage in high-impact activities (assuming you haven’t experienced a fracture) since impact stimulates bone formation. And throw in some balance exercises which can decrease the risk of falls – try Standing Leg Pumps and even close your eyes for additional challenge.
2. Eat for your bones
Add extra fruits and vegetables (especially dark leafy greens) to your meals and get your daily dose of calcium, vitamin D and magnesium along with other nutrients. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 1,000 mg of calcium and 400-800 IU of vitamin D daily for adults under age 50, and 1,200 mg of calcium and 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D daily for adults age 50 and older. (Remember that those guidelines, particularly for calcium, include intake from food.) Reduce the amount of acid-forming foods you consume, like animal protein and sugar, which can stimulate bone breakdown. And watch out for too much sodium and caffeine which can lead to over-excretion of calcium.
3. Skip the soda and smokes
Avoid bone-depleting colas and cigarettes which eat away at the foundation of your skeleton. Colas leech calcium from your bones, cigarettes damage your bones via toxic nicotine and cadmium, and both cola and cigarettes interfere with absorption of vital bone-building nutrients.
4. Find daily enjoyment
Research shows a link between depression and low bone density, and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can weaken your bones. So meditate, laugh, dance or do whatever puts a smile on your face.
5. Teach your children
True osteoporosis prevention begins in childhood and adolescence. This is when we develop most of our bone density to last us the rest of our lives! So let’s not only help ourselves and our parents, but teach our children and grandchildren the importance of healthy bone habits. Share these tips with them or point them to Best Bones Forever, a bone health campaign for girls ages 9-14.
Rebekah Rotstein is the creator of Pilates for Buff Bones™ and the founder of Incorporating Movement. Ever since being diagnosed with osteoporosis at age 28, she’s worked to raise awareness of bone health.
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