How Strong Are Your Bones?

human radiography scan

(DGIwire)  Osteoporosis affects more than 200 million people worldwide.  Because there are no symptoms associated with bone loss, it is often only discovered after a fracture.

People are rightfully concerned about age related bone loss and often ask what they can do about it.  Although there are many supplements and drugs which are touted as either preventive measures or remedies, the fact is that there is only one safe and proven way to build and maintain bone mass and prevent osteoporosis:  Regular weight bearing exercise and activities along with a diet that contains adequate nutrients.

One study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that young men who participate in load-bearing sports for four hours a week have increased bone mass and may have added protection from developing osteoporosis later in life.  Inactivity resulted in decreased bone mass.

They found that those who participated in load-bearing sports showed an increase in hip bone density of 1.3% while the men who remained sedentary during the 5-year study lost about 2.1% of bone mass in their hip. The men who increased their load-bearing activity from age 19 to 24 not only developed more bone, but also had larger bones compared to men who were sedentary.

Larger bones are considered a cushion for age-related bone loss, which often starts around age 25 in both men and women.  Bones, like muscles, atrophy from lack of use.  Consistent weight-bearing movements are the only proven way to maintain bone mass.

“Movements and activities that involve jumping or fast starts and stops which increase the load put on the body’s bones like basketball, volleyball, soccer and tennis are the best kinds of activities for building bone mass.  However, even simple walking has been shown beneficial.  Load-bearing activities signal the body to form new bone tissue.  However, activities like swimming and bicycling that do not put an increased load on the bones have not been shown to build more bone mass,” according to Tom Griesel, co-author of TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust

Supplements like calcium are recommended but are not ideal.  Calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D, were been shown to increase heart attacks, strokes and other adverse cardiovascular events according to a European study of 24,000 people.

Griesel adds, “Plenty of daily activity, walking and strength training exercises along with a natural diet, rich in essential nutrients, is the key to healthy bones.  Some dairy products, canned fish with edible bones like sardines and salmon, green vegetables like broccoli, kale and bok choy, nuts like almonds and Brazil nuts and some fruits like oranges, apricots, figs and prunes are all great choices.”