Build strong bones for fitness and health.

When creating a fitness routine, most women focus on managing their weight and improving their heart health. They also should think about their bones.
“Strong bones are essential to fitness and overall health,” says Christine Livek, M.D., a family medicine doctor at Lake Regional Clinic – Lake Ozark. “Bones tend to weaken as women age, but women of all ages can take action to protect and strengthen their bones.”
Severe bone weakening is known as osteoporosis. People with osteoporosis are at greater risk of breaking a bone, especially in the hip, spine or wrist.
“With proper treatment, it is possible to stop or even reverse bone loss,” Dr. Livek said.
Keep your bones strong with these safeguarding steps.

Know your risk. Women account for about 80 percent of osteoporosis patients. Other risk factors include being Caucasian, Asian, thin or older than 50.

Choose the right foods. Calcium is critical. Your diet should include ample dairy products, as well as green vegetables and calcium-fortified cereals and juices. Vitamin D is important because it encourages calcium absorption. Sunshine is one source of Vitamin D, and it’s added to many dairy foods. Salmon, mackerel and tuna are naturally Vitamin D-rich choices.

Vary your workouts. Exercise helps strengthen not only your bones but also the muscles and tendons that support them. But not all exercise is created equal. Weight-bearing exercise — which includes most exercises done outside of water and not on a bike — is needed for bone health. You also need to build strength through resistance training and should do balance-training exercises to help you avoid falls.

Don’t smoke. Smoking depletes bone mass. Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting.

Ask about medication. Bisphosphonates, such as Boniva, Fosamax and Actonel, can reduce the rate of bone loss and harden existing bones, lowering the risk of fractures. Other options include selective estrogen receptor modulators, such as raloxifene (Evista), that increase bone mass and therefore decrease fracture risk; a nasal spray of calcitonin (Calcimar, Fortical, Miacalcin) to reduce fracture risk; and teriparatide (Forteo), a daily injection that can be taken for two years to help rebuild bone.

When to Get Screened
Many people with osteoporosis do not realize their fragile state.
“Osteoporosis develops silently,” Dr. Livek says. “Unfortunately the first sign is often a break.”
Women between the ages of 50 and 64 should discuss their risk for osteoporosis with their health care provider. After age 65, women should get a bone mineral density test at least once and then talk to their doctor about repeat testing.
Bone density tests are available at Lake Regional Imaging Center with a physician’s order.