STRESS AND DEPRESSION CONTRIBUTE TO OSTEOPOROSIS
Osteoporosis is called a “silent killer” or “the silent thief” because there are generally no symptoms or pain. The first time you know about it is when a bone snaps unexpectedly. Osteoporosis means “porous bones” and it is a condition where the skeleton becomes very fragile and the bones break easily. Simple things can cause a bone to break, such as stepping off a curb, sneezing, being hugged or even bending down to pick something up. Breakages are mainly in the hips, spine and wrist. Osteoporosis is a gradual decrease in bone mass and density that can begin as early as the teen years. Bone mass should be at its peak in our late 20s or early 30s, but thanks to a poor diet and lack of exercise, or too much exercise / aerobics, many women are already losing bone in their 20s. Bone loss occurs more rapidly in women than in men, especially right around the time of menopause, when an abrupt drop in estrogen and progesterone accelerates bone loss.
WHO IS MORE PRONE TO DEVELOP OSTEOPOROSIS
Osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. But white and Asian women — especially older women who are past menopause — are at highest risk, because of the hormonal changes that happen at that age. Other recognized risk factors for osteoporosis include having a thin frame, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol use, inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake, corticosteroid use, and certain medical conditions. Depression is also suggested as risk factor for osteoporosis. Studies reported a 15% deficit in spine bone mass measured by computed tomography (CT) in patients with major depression, spurring a growing number of reports. Statistically, it is shown that 1 out of 3 woman, and 1 out of 5 man over 50 will suffer from osteoporosis. How likely you are to develop osteoporosis depends partly on how much bone mass you attained in your youth. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have “in the bank” and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.
There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may have signs and symptoms that include:
- Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
- Loss of height over time
- A stooped posture
- A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected
YOUNG PEOPLE ARE ALSO AT RISK
While it is more common to think of osteoporosis in people of a more mature age, young people are also at risk. Countless young women nowadays are striving to lose weight by restricting their food intake and engaging in intense exercise routines. The long list may include athletes, super models, and ordinary women who believe that thin is sexy. These individuals tend to exercise too much and eat too little. Young women suffering from anorexia are also very susceptible in developing early signs of osteoporosis. Poor intake of nutrients, excessive exercising, amenorrhea and decreased levels of estrogen have all been identified as factors that contribute to the development of osteoporosis among young anorexic girls. Traces of bone deterioration can be revealed in anorexic girls after only a few months of strict dieting. In most cases, osteoporosis continues to affect anorexic women long after they stop dieting and they maintain a normal body weight. Many young anorexic girls can suffer from weak bones for the rest of their lives.
Here are just a few statistics that will give you a wake-up call
- One in three women over fifty and one in five men will suffer from osteoporosis
- There are more than 8.9 million fractures annually caused by osteoporosis, that is one fracture every three seconds
- 16% of women over fifty who have an osteoporosis fracture will suffer a premature death within five to ten years following the fracture, or an average of 1,100 every month.
- An individual loses approximately 1 year worth of bone mass in only one week of bed confinement
THERE IS HOPE
Osteoporosis is preventable and reversible. You might think that the skeleton does nothing else but holds you up but it is every bit as dynamic as other tissues. Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. It responds to the pull of muscles and gravity, repairs itself, and constantly renews itself. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone. Weight bearing exercise is fast becoming the no1 scientifically proven sport to prevent and even reverse osteoporosis.
A lifelong habit of weight-bearing exercise will help build and maintain strong bones. The greatest benefit as you grow older is that strength training reduces the risk of fracture, because building muscular strength is like having insurance. It gives you better balance and agility, making falls less likely, but if a fall does occur, it will protect your bones from breaking, and if you do break a bone, the body has memory and it will heal much faster. Strength training also provides many other life-enhancing psychological and cardiovascular benefits.
For people with osteoporosis in the spine, it is important to protect the spine from broken bones by moving properly during exercise and daily activities and be ergonomically supported. For example, do not bend over from the waist and avoid twisting motions of the trunk. This is one of the reasons why yoga may not be the safest exercise modality for people suffering from osteoporosis. Also, don’t carry packages that are too heavy or reach for objects that are out of arm’s length on a high shelf.
It is important to ensure that when exercising the body has enough nutrients to build muscle otherwise minerals could be leaked from the bone making the bone more susceptible to osteoporosis. It is therefore important that you do not exercise on an empty stomach. Calcium intake is important to build bone but you also need vitamin D to help the body absorb the calcium. Vitamin D is produced by the skin in sunlight or can be found in many foods, such as in milk products and many breakfast cereals. It has also been found that Magnesium and Vitamin K can also assist in the reduction of bone loss. Vitamin K can be found in greens, whereas Magnesium is found in small quantities in a variety of foods, so eating a varied, healthy diet should provide what you require.
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