Blogs > Simply Fit

Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Keep 'Em Bones Walkin'!

     Osteoporosis, which is defined as "porous bone," is a chronic condition that affects approximately 10 million Americans.  Another 34 million Americans are thought to have a condition called osteopenia (low bone mass) which puts them at risk for developing osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones have become less dense, thin, and weak making them susceptible to fractures.  Under a microscope, healthy bone resembles a honeycomb.  With osteoporosis, structural changes have occurred in the bone that make the holes and spaces of the honeycomb structure much larger.  As a result, the bone becomes less dense, weaker and more susceptible to fracture.
     Bone is living tissue that constantly breaks down and rebuilds throughout life.  This process involves calcium to be withdrawn from and deposited into your bones daily.  The strength of your bones depends upon the amount of calcium stored in them.  In children and teenagers, new bone is formed faster than it is broken down.  Thus, the bones continue to become more dense until peak bone mass (the greatest amount of bone that you will have in your lifetime) is achieved.  
     Your body is efficient at depositing calcium into your bones until you are about the age of 30.  At this point, the rate of bone loss is greater than the rate of new bone formation.  This is why it is important to concentrate on optimizing calcium stores and building up bone tissue at a young age.  If you can optimize your peak bone mass as a youth, your bones will be stronger and less susceptible to osteoporosis when your body starts to lose bone faster than it can make it.
     Osteoporosis is a major public health problem.  It is estimated that in adults 50 years and older, one in two women and one in four men will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.  Each year it leads to fractures in 1.5 million people.  Fractures typically occur in the hip, spine, and wrist.
     Fractures of the hip are of particular concern.  Approximately 24% of adults over the age of 50 who have suffered a hip fracture will die within a year of the incident.  For those who survive a hip fracture, quality of life can be greatly reduced by functional limitations.  One in five sufferers will need long-term aid (nursing home care) afterward.  And, only 15% of hip fracture sufferers can walk unaided across the room six months post-incident. 
     Fractures of the vertebrae (spine) are also of special concern.  They can lead to death as well.  In addition, they are associated with physical deformity and a decrease in height.  These physical changes can affect self-esteem and lead to anxiety and depression.
     There are certain lifestyle habits and traits that can increase your risk for developing osteoporosis.  They are listed below.

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis:
  • Female gender - 80% of those affected are women
  • Small/thin body frame
  • Low body weight
  • Ethnicity - Caucasian and Asian races are at a greater risk
  • Older age
  • Family history of osteoporosis and broken bones
  • Personal history of broken bones
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Low levels of sex hormones - Estrogen protects bones.  Women who have low levels, such as from menopause, are at a greater risk.  The risk is also greater for those women who have amenorrhea (absence of periods).  Testosterone protects bone in men, therefore, low levels can lead to bone loss.
  • Poor diet - Low intake of calcium and vitamin D as well as excessive consumption of caffeine, alcohol, protein, and sodium can increase risk.
  • History of steroid and anticonvulsant medication use 
  • History of anorexia nervosa, rheumatoid arthritis, and gastrointestinal disease
     Osteoporosis is known as a "silent" disease.  You cannot feel your bones becoming less dense and weak.  Many times, the first sign that osteoporosis is present is a bone fracture.  Kyphosis (a stooped posture) or a loss of height also can be an indication of the presence of osteoporosis. 
     Fortunately, osteoporosis is preventable and can be treated.  You can take action to promote bone health by following the healthy lifestyle habits listed below.

Tips to Promote Bone Health:
  • Engage in regular exercise that is weight-bearing and uses the major muscle groups of the body. 
  • Participate in resistance training activities at least 2-3 days/week.
  • Perform balance exercises at least 1 day/week.
  • Consume adequate levels of calcium and vitamin D.  Foods that are high in calcium include dairy products, fortified oatmeal, soybeans, canned salmon with edible bones, and broccoli.  The best way to get vitamin D is by sun exposure, about 15 minutes per day.  Vitamin D-fortified cow's milk and soy milk are other sources of the vitamin.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Discuss your bone health and risk for developing osteoporosis with your physician.  He/She may suggest a bone density test, supplementation, and/or medication.
Note:  Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.

The 2004 Surgeon General's Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Blogger Jacqueline said...

Excellent info! I am on the hunt for bone health info and want pass along this link for a fracture risk assessment quiz (from the Better Bones dot com site):

June 28, 2009 at 10:01 PM 
Blogger Cindy Haskin-Popp said...

Thank you for the link Jacqueline! I visited the site and took the quiz myself. I wanted to let other readers know that the site will provide suggestions on how to optimize personal bone health based on the results of the quiz.

After taking the quiz, you will also have the opportunity to sign-up for emails and a bimonthly newsletter regarding the latest research and developments in bone health.

Remember, if you have any concerns about your bone health you should seek the advice of your physician.

June 28, 2009 at 10:26 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi---I really liked this article on osteoporosis. At my last physical, the doctor recommended that I start taking vitamin D. I am trying to find the best source in addition to the sun. Would that be a supplement? Cod liver oil? any suggestions? thanks---I really enjoy your blog.

August 4, 2009 at 11:04 AM 
Blogger Cindy Haskin-Popp said...

Vitamin D occurs in very few foods naturally. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health, the best sources of Vitamin D are fish liver oils (1 TBS of cod liver oil provides 1,360 International Units [IUs]) and the flesh of fish (salmon - 3.5 oz. cooked provides 360 IUs; mackerel - 3.5 oz. cooked provides 345 IUs; sardines- 1.75 oz. canned in oil and drained provides 250 IUs; and tuna - 3.0 oz. canned in oil provides 200 IUs). Vitamin D is also present in egg yolks. One whole egg provides 20 IUs. Cooked beef liver (3.5 oz) provides 15 IUs. Other sources would be Vitamin D fortified cereals and milk products.
According to the same website, Vitamin D in the form of Vitamin D3 could be more than 3 times as effective than Vitamin D in the form of Vitamin D2. The website stated that vitamin D supplements are being reformulated to account for this finding using Vitamin D3 instead of Vitamin D2. I hope this helps. For more information go to

August 4, 2009 at 12:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you---this helps---looking into fish oils the concern is mercury contamination and looks like Carlson has some good (alas expensive) fish oil products.

On another note, your opinion regarding website would be appreciated. A lot of us here at work have been following his articles for many years.

August 5, 2009 at 9:11 AM 
Blogger Cindy Haskin-Popp said...

If mercury is a concern with fish, do not forget that you can get vitamin D from fortified cereals and cow's and soy milk as well as beef liver and eggs. Cheese also contains small amounts of vitamin D naturally (1 oz. of swiss cheese provides 12 IUs).

I have heard of Dr. Mercola. I do not know enough about his website to comment on it.

August 5, 2009 at 7:41 PM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home