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Another Piece of the Puzzle

Staying healthy is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle—there are so many pieces to it! One major piece is healthy bones. May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. Osteoporosis means “porous bone,” and it’s a condition in which bones become so weak that they can easily break.

There are around 200 bones in the human body. Bones are living tissue with many functions, including helping you move and protecting your vital organs (heart, liver, lungs, etc.). Bones develop and grow from birth to your early 20s, at their strongest, densest, and least likely to break—”peak bone mass.” After this, healthy bones constantly renew, but if you have osteoporosis, more bone will be lost than replaced, making your bones more likely to break.

Anyone can get osteoporosis, but most people who have it do not have symptoms (and may not even know they have it) until they break a bone. Women are more likely to get osteoporosis, possibly because we have smaller bones and a lower peak bone mass than men. There are many other risk factors for osteoporosis, including age, body size, race, family history, hormone changes, medications, and lifestyle choices.

Unfortunately, I have a few risk factors, including being a more petite woman with a family history of osteoporosis. Still, there are a lot of things I can do to keep my bones strong as I get older that help with the other puzzle pieces of health, including:

  • Staying active with weight-bearing exercises, like walking, hiking, and strength training (but also giving myself rest days when needed).
  • Not smoking. Smoking can increase the risk of weak bones.
  • Eating a balanced diet with enough nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, and protein, to help support my bones.
  • Limiting how much alcohol I drink.

Of course, I have no way of knowing if I’ll have osteoporosis or other health issues in the future, but I do know that I’m doing everything I can to stay as healthy as possible by maintaining good habits that I hope to continue for the rest of my life.

Other References

National Institute on Aging

National Institute of Health

Help to quit smoking