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5 Tips for Preventing Osteoporosis

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Osteoporosis Prevention Tips
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.
Osteoporosis and the Abs
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From the NY Times
November 11, 2009, 12:01 AM
Phys Ed: The Best Exercises for Healthy Bones

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Several weeks ago, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that should give pause to anyone who plans to live a long and independent life. The study looked at the incidence of hip fractures among older Americans and the mortality rates associated with them. Although the number of hip fractures has declined in recent decades, the study found that the 12-month mortality rate associated with the injury still hovers at more than 20 percent, meaning that, in the year after fracturing a hip, about one in five people over age 65 will die.

Meanwhile, another group of articles, published this month as a special section of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, underscore why that statistic should be relevant even to active people who are years, or decades, away from eligibility for Medicare. The articles detailed a continuing controversy within the field of sports science about exactly how exercise works on bone and why sometimes, apparently, it doesn’t.

“There was a time, not so long ago,” when most researchers assumed “that any and all activity would be beneficial for bone health,” says Dr. Daniel W. Barry, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, at Denver, and a researcher who has studied the bones of the elderly and of athletes. Then came a raft of unexpected findings, some showing that competitive swimmers had lower-than-anticipated bone density, others that, as an earlier Phys Ed column pointed out, competitive cyclists sometimes had fragile bones and, finally, some studies suggesting, to the surprise of many researchers, that weight lifting did not necessarily strengthen bones much. In one representative study from a few years ago, researchers found no significant differences in the spine or neck-bone densities of young women who did resistance-style exercise training (not heavy weight lifting) and a similar group who did not.

Researchers readily admit that they don’t fully understand why some exercise is good for bones and some just isn’t. As the articles in this month’s Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise make clear, scientists actually seem to be becoming less certain about how exercise affects bone. Until fairly recently, many thought that the pounding or impact that you get from running, for instance, deformed the bone slightly. It bowed in response to the forces moving up the leg from the ground, stretching the various bone cells and forcing them to adapt, usually by adding cells, which made the bone denser. This, by the way, is how muscle adapts to exercise. But many scientists now think that that process doesn’t apply to bones. “If you stretch bone cells” in a Petri dish, says Alexander G. Robling, an assistant professor in the department of anatomy and cell biology at Indiana University School of Medicine and the author of an article in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, “you have to stretch them so far to get a response that the bone would break.”

So he and many other researchers now maintain that bone receives the message to strengthen itself in response to exercise by a different means. He says that during certain types of exercise, the bone bends, but this doesn’t stretch cells; it squeezes fluids from one part of the bone matrix to another. The extra fluid inspires the cells bathed with it to respond by adding denser bone.

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Why should it matter what kind of message bones are receiving? Because, Professor Robling and others say, only certain types of exercise adequately bend bones and move the fluid to the necessary bone cells. An emerging scientific consensus seems to be, he says, that “large forces released in a relatively big burst” are probably crucial. The bone, he says, “needs a loud signal, coming fast.” For most of us, weight lifting isn’t explosive enough to stimulate such bone bending. Neither is swimming. Running can be, although for unknown reasons, it doesn’t seem to stimulate bone building in some people. Surprisingly, brisk walking has been found to be effective at increasing bone density in older women, Dr. Barry says. But it must be truly brisk. “The faster the pace,” he says — and presumably the greater the bending within the bones — the lower the risk that a person will fracture a bone.

There seems to be a plateau, however, that has also surprised and confounded some researchers. Too much endurance exercise, it appears, may reduce bone density. In one small study completed by Dr. Barry and his colleagues, competitive cyclists lost bone density over the course of a long training season. Dr. Barry says that it’s possible, but not yet proved, that exercise that is too prolonged or intense may lead to excessive calcium loss through sweat. The body’s endocrine system may interpret this loss of calcium as serious enough to warrant leaching the mineral from bone. Dr. Barry is in the middle of a long-term study to determine whether supplementing with calcium-fortified chews before and after exercise reduces the bone-thinning response in competitive cyclists. He expects results in a year or so.

In the meantime, the current state-of-the-science message about exercise and bone building may be that, silly as it sounds, the best exercise is to simply jump up and down, for as long as the downstairs neighbor will tolerate. “Jumping is great, if your bones are strong enough to begin with,” Dr. Barry says. “You probably don’t need to do a lot either.” (If you have any history of fractures or a family history of osteoporosis, check with a physician before jumping.) In studies in Japan, having mice jump up and land 40 times during a week increased their bone density significantly after 24 weeks, a gain they maintained by hopping up and down only about 20 or 30 times each week after that.

If hopping seems an undignified exercise regimen, bear in mind that it has one additional benefit: It tends to aid in balance, which may be as important as bone strength in keeping fractures at bay. Most of the time, Dr. Barry says, “fragile bones don’t matter, from a clinical standpoint, if you don’t fall down.”

May 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

I lead a healthy lifestyle however like many women at my age, I have been losing bone density for the last several years. (maybe since menopause?)

I’ve been reluctant to try any prescription medication but a few years ago I gave in and my doctor prescribed Fosomax for me. I took it for a couple months but the side effects like nausea, diarreha and general muscle soreness were really affecting my day to day activities.

I stopped taking Fosomax and decided to go the more natural route. I began looking into the effects of resveratrol and after coming across this Journal of Biological Chemistry article (link to article listed below) I began taking a regimen of Resvantage resveratrol on a daily basis. There are many resveratrol supplements on the market but this one is physician recommended, made by Pfizer, and because the resveratrol is micronized it is 3.6x more effective than store bought brands.

That was 3 years ago and yearly tests have shown that I haven't had any further bone losses over that period of time. I have experienced no side effects; quite the opposite, resveratrol has me sleeping more soundly and I have added muscle mass which we tend to lose along with bone mass as we age. My mental acuity has improved as well.


June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBernice Banner

Hi Bernice,
Thank you for the information and the research. Like you I suffer from osteoporosis and am exploring all of my options.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJackie Reagan

I have osteopenia. My doctor tells me that I can get the calcium I need in my diet, he does not advocate taking supplements. He does support exercise esp weight lifting and a good diet. WHAT SAY YOU?


May 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlynnita ellis

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