Story by: Sara Sidery on February 1, 2022
Hormonal changes after menopause can cause women’s bones to weaken so much that they can break easily, but there are several ways to increase bone density and overall health while aging.
Estrogen levels drop significantly during menopause, causing bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis.
“Even though it is impossible to recover the bone density of one’s youth, there are simple healthy habits that can help prevent rapidly thinning bones,” said Angela L. Bell, M.D., OB/GYN with Norton Women’s Care.
1) Do bone-building exercises.
Weight-bearing exercises — walking, jogging, climbing stairs, hiking, tennis and dancing — can increase bone density. Lifting weights also can strengthen bones. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity per day. If you have osteoporosis, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine, as movements like bending or twisting can harm the spine.
2) Eat your vitamins.
Providers with Norton Women’s Care can assist women throughout their childbearing years, menopause and beyond.
Call (502) 629-4GYN (4496)
Ensure your diet is rich in calcium, including milk and dairy products; vitamin K, found in leafy greens; and vitamin D, which is in fish, egg yolks, mushrooms and also absorbed by spending time in the sunshine. Talk to your doctor about taking vitamin supplements.
3) Maintain a healthy weight.
Being underweight, or having a low body mass index (BMI), can lead to greater bone loss later in life, while obesity can cause health conditions (such as high blood pressure or diabetes) that can be risk factors for low bone density.
4) Stop smoking.
Tobacco use decreases bone density, and smoking is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Studies show that quitting smoking, even later in life, can help decrease bone loss.
5) Limit alcohol use.
Excessive drinking can interfere with the absorption of key nutrients in bone health, such as calcium. Overindulging also can increase the risk of broken bones from falls.
6) Talk to your doctor about medications.
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, prescription medicines may slow bone loss and help manage osteoporosis in postmenopausal patients.
Bone mass tends to stay stable from about age 30 until menopause. The menopausal transition usually begins between ages 45 and 55, and rapid bone loss may occur during the first few years of menopause. While the initial speed of bone loss eventually slows, the loss of bone density will continue gradually over the years.
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