You have heard it called “the silent thief”. You remember a friend whose mother or grandmother was never the same after breaking her hip because of it. You may even have been told that you are at risk yourself.
It is osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become thin and filled with holes (hence the “porous”), making them weaker and more prone to fracture. Osteoporosis is called the “silent thief” because bone is lost with no signs. You may not know that you have osteoporosis until a strain, bump, or fall causes a bone to break. Approximately one in four women and one in eight men are at risk of developing osteoporosis once they are over 50 years of age. More than 2 million Canadians are currently living with osteoporosis.
What to do? In the world of osteoporosis risk, there are things that you can change and things that you can’t. Know the risk factors: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/bone/Osteoporosis/osteoporosis_ff.asp, address the things that you can change, don’t sweat the things you can’t and pursue a lifestyle that supports bone health.
One element of a lifestyle that supports bone health is physical activity just like we emphasis during our boot camp retreat here at Mountain Trek. Use it or loose it is our adage. Bone is living tissue that remodels itself continually. As we go about our day, our bones are being gradually broken down and rebuilt by our bodies. How strong a bone is built depends in part, on how strong it needs to be.
Bones that have to carry a load stay stronger, longer. If you do not subject your bones to the stress of weight-bearing activities, you will gradually lose bone mass. Just ask an astronaut. In the weightlessness of space, astronauts can lose as much bone density in one month as postmenopausal women lose in one year.
Rate of loss may be slower here on earth, but the same rule applies: if you don’t use your bones, they won’t stay strong.
So don’t let the thief in get our there and play. Seek activities that put stress on the bones; this encourages the body to lay down new bone during the remodeling process. Some of these activities include: