Making no bones about osteoporosis

25 Jun, 2003 10:00 PM
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BONE is not a static or permanent structure in the human body and it is extremely important to consider this when looking to future health and longevity.

Bone is always undergoing changes, even after height increases cease.

It changes due to a response to the "loading" by the body's muscles during movement, which causes the bone tissue to respond by repairing itself.

The older bone cells are severed and reconstructed with newer, stronger bone.

Bone remodelling is the formal term for this process and it relies on the existence of calcium and other important nutrients to be successful.

Developing strong bones at an early age, and then being involved in regular physical weight bearing activity throughout middle life, will be a major preventative mechanism for avoiding health problems such as osteoporosis later in life.

Osteoporosis, or Porous Bones, is a focal health concern especially for older women in society.

It can be defined as a disease where bone density is distinctly lessened leading to weakness and an increase risk of fracture.

Osteoporosis has become a concerning health issue in Australia due to the impact it has on people's lives and the dramatic economic costs it creates.

More than $1 billion is spent on treating osteoporotic fractures each year.

Osteoporosis Australia estimates that 1.9 million Australians suffer with the disease, with more than 50,000 osteoporotic fractures occurring every year.

It affects as many as one in two women, and one in three men over the age of 60 years.

The effects of it are as fatal to women as all female cancers combined.

Up to 20pc of people who experience a fracture of the hip will pass away and more than 50pc will never walk again.

Despite these alarming statistics, eight out of 10 women in Australia feel they are not personally at risk.

In fact, only 20pc of women recall being screened for the disease after menopause.

Growing testimony specifies that osteoporosis has its origins early in life, both through genetic predisposition and through environmental factors.

These factors include inhibiting bone mineralisation during adolescence, plus a variety of other conditions such as joint diseases, steroid therapy, asthma and immobilisation.

The best way to look after your bones is to attain a high peak bone mass.

Peak bone mass is reached between the ages of 19 and 30 years and will have to last you for the remainder of your lifetime.

One of the best ways suggested to keep bones strong and healthy is through sufficient calcium.

Just three daily serves of dairy will provide enough calcium.

Here are some great ideas for adding calcium to your daily diet:

p Fruit smoothie

p Two slices grilled cheese on toast

p Chopped fruit with 300g custard

p Cereal with 250ml milk and fruit

p Pancakes with fruit jam and 200g yoghurt

p 200g frozen yoghurt

p Two cheese slices with crackers

p Add parmesan cheese to pasta dishes

p Add skim milk powder or grated cheese to mashed potato, stews and casseroles.

In addition to a healthy eating plan that includes sufficient calcium, physical activity on a regular basis is also essential.

It should be weight bearing, practised frequently and become part of your overall lifestyle.

Active Australia has indicated that physical activity in Australia is continually decreasing.

In order to help prevent osteoporosis and make bones strong, at least 20-30 minutes of weight bearing exercise three times per week is recommended.

What is weight-bearing exercise? This is any exercise that requires you to support your own body weight. Some excellent ideas are:

p Weight training /resistance training

p Walking ‹ take the kids or pet for a walk; walk to the shops if you have a small amount of groceries or park the car further from the shops. Cumulative exercise throughout the day helps.

p Gardening ‹ fun and low impact exercise

p Local sports ‹ such as cricket, netball, volleyball and soccer.

pHousework ‹ Although this is not always enjoyable, it should not be overlooked. Put a little extra zip into your vacuuming or cleaning up. Put on favourite music to keep energy levels up whilst doing daily chores. This all counts as exercise.

The key to success is to choose something you enjoy.

Start slowly and work your way up to harder exercises and greater challenges.

If the body starts to hurt, stop and give it a rest for a while. Always wear comfortable clothing and try to exercise with others to keep levels of motivation high.

Always warm up and cool down and perhaps keep a diary of progress.

All of these tips will help you get those 20-30 mins of exercise every day to reduce risks of osteoporosis and many other health problems.

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