What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a decrease in bone density and strength that leaves the bones porous, brittle and easily breakable.
This leads to debilitating bone fractures in later years that risk a good quality of life.
At least 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from a bone fracture due to osteoporosis but it doesn’t have to be the case.
Building strong bones before the age of 20 and maintaining the density for the rest of your life is the best way to prevent osteoporosis. While weight training, exercise and a good diet are all great ways to prevent osteoporosis, there are a few secret methods to maintaining excellent bone health that add a unique and interesting twist to the conventional tactics.
Here are 4 of the most surprising ways to reduce your risk of osteoporosis. The best part, it doesn’t take heavy weight lifting or hard to follow workout plans.
1. Line dancing: Studies suggest line dancing is an amazing method to increase your bone mass in your hips and lower legs. The pounding, walking and stomping forces your lower body to work against gravity which puts more demand on your bones and in turn promotes bone strength. The added force of a stomp that line dancing uses differs from a regular walk or shuffle as it asks you to lift your leg up high and strike the ground with added force. This causes mini micro fractures in the bone. It sounds counterproductive, but with an increased amount of micro fractures, the cells that create bone, known as “osteoblasts” will rush in to repair the bone leaving a stronger denser layer.
There’s no need to be a professional line dancer to benefit from its bone strengthening power. As long as you’re stomping you’re good to go. Take a group of friends and head out for a beginners class. It’s a great way to have fun while increasing your bone density.
2. Eat sesame seeds: Sesame seeds have three times more calcium than a glass of milk. While one cup of milk yields 30% of your daily calcium value, one cup of sesame seeds has an astounding 140%. Calcium is needed to maintain bone strength and bone density. You usually associate calcium with a large glass of milk, but in a world filled with dairy allergies, and a desire to try new things, it’s about time an exciting alternative like sesame seeds presented itself to the world.
What to do: most recipes with sesames seeds don’t add enough to meet your needs. So instead of searching for low quantity sesame recipes, search for tahini recipes instead. Tahini is sesame paste. The consistency is much like peanut or almond butter. This makes it easy to spread on your toast, to make a creamy sauce, to create salad dressing, or as an extra ingredient in dipping sauces. Hummus is one very popular example of a dip that contains large amounts of tahini. Just 2 tablespoons will give you as much calcium as a glass of milk.
3. Go outside in the summer: The powerful UVB rays in sunlight trigger vitamin D synthesis in our body. It can take as little as 5 minutes of sun exposure to get more than enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps calcium absorb into the body so calcium is dependent on vitamin D to create healthy strong bones. Great news if you live in a climate with dark winters. Vitamin D stores in your liver and in fat. If you’ve enjoyed the outdoors in spring and summer months you may have stored up enough vitamin D for winter.
4. Wear a weight vest and walk: Your bone is more like muscle than you think. Bone is a growing and changing tissue. When exposed to heavy loads, much like muscle, it becomes stronger. While walking is a fairly straightforward task that requires little effort to perform, adding a weight vest brings in a bit of extra resistance that causes bone to get stronger. Not only does it increase bone strength, but it also strengthens the muscles and ligaments that support the bones. This helps reduce the chance of falls which could lead to fractures. It’s a win, win.
What to do: Wear a weight vest and walk for 30 minutes three times a week. It’s that simple. The vest doesn’t need to be heavy. It only needs to be 4-8% of your total body weight. As an example, if you are a 150 pound person, the vest would weigh 6-12 pounds. That doesn’t seem heavy at all.
Do you have osteoporosis?
Even if you have osteoporosis exercise and nutrition can help. It maintains your bone density as it currently is.
Some exercises will need to be modified or may even be contraindicated (depending on the severity of your osteoporosis). Replace foot stomping with walking. Use Lower weights for the weight vest. In fact, a weight vest may be completely contraindicated.
Make sure you’ve consulted a physician before you begin any prevention program, including the exercise and nutrition habits listed above.
Canada, O. (2014). Osteoporosis Canada. Retrieved 2014, from http://www.osteoporosis.ca/osteoporosis-and-you/osteoporosis-facts-and-statistics/: http://www.osteoporosis.ca/osteoporosis-and-you/osteoporosis-facts-and-statistics/
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Roghani, T., Torkaman, G., Movasseghe , S., Hedayati, M., Goosheh, B., & Bayat, N. (2013). Effects of short-term aerobic exercise with and without external loading on bone metabolism and balance in postemnopausal women with osteoporosis. Rheumatology International, 291-8.
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