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Don’t break a leg
Decreasing the risk for osteoporosis

06/19/14
By Joel Bergeron



 Have you ever asked a friend if they’ve broken a bone? You may recall jumping out of a tree that was a little too high, or falling off the jungle gym at recess, leading to a quick trip to the hospital. As a kid, having our friends sign our cast might have been fun.  But as adults, the thought of a broken bone is something we all would rather avoid. 

Our skeletal system continues to grow and increase in density up to about the age of 23. After that, we lose a small percentage of skeletal mass each year we age. By the time we’re into our 60s, 70s and 80s, the bones can become so brittle that a simple fall on the ground can result in a broken hip or arm.  Losing mobility later in life can spell health disaster too, so how can we avoid this? 
It’s important to understand that no matter what we do, we’re going to lose some bone mass through the normal aging process. What we do have a high degree of influence over is the rate of loss. The trick is to build our bones up while they are still growing so that when we start losing bone mass, it is from a bigger starting point.  
It’s sort of like taking sips of water out of a glass. Eventually you’re going to finish it off, but starting with a larger cup means it should take longer to run out. Except in this case, we don’t want our bones to fold like an accordion.
During puberty and normal maturation (ages 10-23), regular physical activities such as sports or resistance training are extremely important. Specifically, strength training has a direct correlation to bone density. The more regularly you lift weights, the stronger your bones become.  
Balanced nutrition also plays a large role. Bones contain large quantities of calcium and collagen.  Make sure you regularly have calcium in your diet, whether from a dairy product or supplement.  Consuming protein also has positive implications, but don’t worry about supplementing with protein powder. Eating a normal diet is enough.
Once you’re in adulthood, regular load-bearing activity coupled with a healthy diet are your best defenses against accelerated bone density loss. Cardiovascular activities such as swimming, biking and jogging aren’t as effective as strength training two or three days per week. Choose exercise that load your entire body, such as squats, deadlifts, pullups or leg presses.  The idea is to load the spine, hips and long bones of the body regularly.
By maintaining a balanced, active lifestyle and consuming a well-rounded diet filled with calcium, we slow down the aging process so that our quality of living stays high into the golden years.  
Do you have a question about health and fitness that you’d like answered in The Healthy Hippo? Email Joel Bergeron at inf@nlpstrength.com. Joel is a former NCAA D1 and professional sports coach and holds a master’s degree in sport science. Be sure to check with your doctor before changing your eating habits or embarking on a new exercise program. 
 
As seen in the June 19, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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