Lifestyle Changes to Make for Living With Osteoporosis
An osteoporosis diagnosis can seem bleak, but you have more control over your current (and future) bone health than you might imagine. In fact, the small decisions you make each day are just as important as your prescribed osteoporosis medications.
Smoking should be the first thing to go. Nicotine attacks bone mass, and cigarette smoke interferes with osteoporosis medication so much, it often cancels out the beneficial effects. However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to lifestyle changes.
Consider making adjustments in three primary areas — exercise, diet, and your home environment — for a significant improvement in your health and happiness.
Build Up Your Bones with the Right Activity
Living a healthy life with thinning bones is about protecting your bone mass, but also rebuilding lost bone. Quitting smoking and healthy diet changes can help a lot with the bone protection, but you’ll need to challenge your bones with resistance in order to build the strength back up.
Exercise is an important form of stress for your body: it improves flexibility, builds muscle, and stabilizes your entire musculoskeletal system. Of course, there are dozens of types of exercises, and you’ll need to choose the ones that work best for your bones.
Work in Some Weight Bearing Exercise
Simple, low-impact aerobic activity is a wonderful place to begin, especially if you’re relatively new to daily exercise. Any time you work your body against gravity, you’re strengthening your muscles and bones. However, the higher your exertion, the greater the resistance — and the more remarkable the rewards.
If you can work up to jogging, aerobics, or jump rope, you’re on the path to measurably stronger bones. Even though the high impact isn’t amazing for arthritic joints, it does the most for bone strength; if you have joint problems, talk with your doctor about the best way to balance your particular needs.
Learn to Pace Yourself
Running every day is sure to stress your body too much, and the more injuries you suffer, the greater your risk of a damaging fall. Embrace balance by taking up yoga, Pilates, or tai chi alongside your new bone-strengthening workouts: these all help to strengthen the muscles around the spine, and since the spine is one of the most common site of fractures, this can keep you mobile for longer. Exercise that targets your core will also improve your posture and balance.
Make Healthy Diet Substitutions
There are a few clear and easy ways to prevent more bone loss and maintain your strength through your daily diet. A balanced menu is a smart way to begin, but some specific substitutions that can tip the scales in your favor.
Tea Instead of Alcohol
It can seem like a bit of a sacrifice at first, but opting for mint, fruit, or black teas over that extra evening drink can make a pretty big difference in your bone health. Studies show that two or more alcoholic drinks a day can hamper bone formation, and the more you drink, the higher your chance of falling.
Conversely, a cup of the right tea can have welcome effects on your body and mind. Feeling stressed? Camomile and lemon balm are calming. If you need a bit of a pick-me-up, choose black tea over coffee: a recent Australian study found that older women who were regular tea drinkers had higher bone density than those who didn’t drink tea very often, even after accounting for things like history of smoking and calcium supplementation.
Next page: some more healthy diet substitutions, plus some tips for staying safe.