A tragic difficulty with osteoporosis is that the causes are in action long before we find out about them. This makes a focus month even more important. More than half of Americans over the age of 50 are in danger of breaking bones, and what we do decades before that has a lot to do with whether that half includes us. Our bone density is determined to a great extent while we are still growing.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation makes May each year National Osteoporosis Month to make sure that it’s not too late when we learn the importance of bone health. Even for those of us whose growth years are years ago, we are reminded in May that bone density can still be helped at almost any age through exercise and nutrition.
The Difference between Women and Men
About half of all women over 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis and, in fact, 80% of osteoporosis cases are among women. Women’s bones tend to be smaller and thinner, and the level of the hormone estrogen, which helps protect bones, declines sharply after women reach maturity. The advances made in girls’ athletic participation have done much to help strengthen bones in young women, but the sedentary pull of the digital age is increasingly a cause for concern, with heightened consequences for girls, especially as they reach their teens. This is where the future is foretold when it comes to osteoporosis.
Men might think their chances are good, with “only” one in five cases found among men, but to put that in a different perspective men are even more likely to develop osteoporosis than prostate cancer. So men are well advised to pay attention too, when we observe National Osteoporosis Month in May.
The Role of Nutrition and Exercise
Calcium and vitamin D are two of the most specific contributors to bone density, yet a healthy, regular, balanced diet is important overall. Fruits and vegetables every day are recommended for everyone, and particularly for teenage girls.
One of the easiest exercises to which we are ever exposed turns out to be helpful for encouraging the growth and maintenance of strong bones. “The Jumping Jack Challenge” of National Osteoporosis Month offers an example of how easy it is to get “enough exercise” to build bone density. In the Challenge, people are asked to post social media videos of themselves, their children, parents, family and friends doing 10 jumping jacks in less than 10 seconds.
The Importance of Awareness and Where to Get it
Awareness is what we can’t do without, as in so many factors that make up our well-being, and awareness is what National Osteoporosis Month is organized to contribute. For the millions at risk of osteoporosis and bone breaks, bone mass measurements may be called for, even when we feel just fine. The only way to know if a test like that is called for is to check with your physician.
We’d consider it a privilege to help with that. Call us at 843-815-6468.