In this in-depth guide, we look at some evidence-based ways you can strengthen your bones and improve your freedom and flexibility.
Osteoporosis is closely linked to ageing, but some of us will lose bone more quickly, causing us to develop this life-limiting condition.
We all start to lose bone mass from age 50, but it happens more quickly in some people. While it may be impossible to stop osteoporosis from developing, there are some things that we can all do to slow, and in some cases, prevent osteoporosis from developing.
It’s estimated that 3 million people in the UK currently have osteoporosis, with the majority unaware they have the condition.
We could all develop osteoporosis, but those most at risk are the elderly, those with a family history of osteoporosis and post-menopausal women. In fact, women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, specifically after menopause when oestrogen levels fall.
We’ve written about some of the warning signs for osteoporosis that you should look out for. Getting a diagnosis of osteoporosis is a critical first step in helping you get the medical support and treatment you need before the condition worsens.
Unfortunately, bone loss is a natural part of the ageing process. However, there are some things you can do to slow bone loss and to delay – and in some cases, stop – bone loss.
Here are five evidence-backed ways you can prevent bone loss and slow osteoporosis:
Regular exercise is crucial for everyone, but even more so for those at risk of developing osteoporosis. The good news is you don’t need to go for a run or lift weights. Instead, undertaking low-impact activities such as walking or cycling can positively benefit your bone health.
The NHS recommends the following exercises for those looking to build bone health:
“These types of exercise work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine to slow mineral loss,” say the experts at the Mayo Clinic.
Aerobic exercise such as dancing, running and cycling helps get your heart pumping and the blood flowing in your body. However, it’s equally important to perform weight-bearing exercises or strength-building resistance exercises (using resistance bands) to help build muscle mass.
As well as building better muscles, strength exercise can also help your balance, posture and spine strength.
Why not check out a series of videos from MyBones ambassador Diana Moran? Perhaps more famously known as the Green Goddess, Diana’s routines have helped millions of people to improve their freedom and flexibility.
Before undertaking any exercise regime it’s essential to speak to a medical professional. They can discuss your overall health and offer advice and guidance on what exercises are suitable for you.
Smoking can cause irreparable damage to your lungs and cause a whole range of medical problems, including osteoporosis.
“Evidence demonstrates that tobacco smoking causes an imbalance in bone turnover, leading to lower bone mass and making bone vulnerable to osteoporosis and fracture,” say experts writing in the Journal of Osteoporosis.
There’s no safe way to smoke. If you’re worried about the health of your bones, you should stop immediately.
The NHS has a range of support services available to those who want to quit. Your local stop-smoking service can provide physical and emotional support to help you to give up.
If you’re unable or unwilling to access NHS support, there is also a huge range of over-the-counter aids that can help you quit smoking. You can ask your pharmacist for advice on suitable stop smoking medications that could work for you.
Second-hand smoke can also affect bone growth, say the same authors, so if you live with someone who smokes, encourage them to quit. It’s better for your health and theirs.
Most of us enjoy a drink, but alcohol and osteoporosis are linked, scientists have established. “Heavy alcohol use decreases bone density and weakens bones’ mechanical properties,” say academics.
Chronic use in adults can massively increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, as well as negatively impacting your overall physical and mental health and wellbeing.
You don’t need to give up drinking altogether. Drinking in moderation is unlikely to affect your bone health significantly, say the same experts.
We recommend following the NHS guidelines on safe amounts of alcohol. For both men and women, that’s a total of 14 units per week. This shouldn’t be consumed in one go but spread over the week, with some gaps between drinking sessions (known as alcohol-free days).
It can be hard to keep track of your drinking, then use the NHS Drink Free Days app. You can keep track of the units you’re consuming and access information and guidance on how to stay on top of your drinking.
You can download the app for Apple devices here and Android devices here.
A healthy and well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help strengthen your bones. You should aim to get your 5-a-day, including portions of green vegetables. It’s also essential to get adequate levels of protein and potassium for healthy bone growth.
Some supplement manufacturers have claimed that Omega 3 fatty acids can have a benefit to bone health. The science itself isn’t overwhelming, but eating more oily fish certainly won’t hurt you and could benefit your bone health.
It’s crucial that you consume enough vitamin D, calcium and magnesium.
Vitamin D is crucial for bone health, says the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS).
You can get vitamin D from sunlight, foods or supplements. For most of us, spending time in the sun is a pleasure, but it can be challenging for some. Each of us is advised to get 10 micrograms (sometimes called 400 units) of vitamin D each day. Taking a vitamin D supplement is an easy way to increase your intake and is advised for anyone worried about their bone health.
We all know from our childhoods that calcium helps build stronger bones. About 99% of calcium in the body is in the bones. The older we get, the more calcium we need. The recommended daily amounts of calcium for adults are below:
Adults 19-50 years: 1,000 mg
Adult men 51-70 years: 1,000 mg
Adult women 51-70 years: 1,200 mg
Adults 71 years and older: 1,200 mg
Over time, a lack of calcium in our diets can lead to problems with bone growth. You can find calcium in a range of foods, including dairy products, leafy green vegetables, salmon and cereals. You should be able to get the calcium you need from a balanced daily diet, but some people may benefit from taking calcium supplements. These can safely be taken alongside your existing diet.
Magnesium deficiency can directly affect bone health, scientists have found. “Overall, controlling and maintaining magnesium homeostasis represents a helpful intervention to maintain bone integrity,” say the authors.
You’ll find magnesium in spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, say the experts. But, again, some people may benefit from taking a magnesium supplement daily to boost levels.
If you’re worried about taking supplements or would like any advice on the best supplements to take, speak to your doctor.
Low-intensity vibration devices, such as Marodyne LiV, are highly effective at preventing osteoporosis. This recent article in Health Europa summarises the evidence, concluding that LiV is a highly effective way to reduce bone loss and, in some cases, improve bone growth.
Studies have shown that standing on Marodyne LiV for just 10 minutes a day can help improve bone density. The therapy proved particularly effective in one trial in young adult women with low bone mineral density (BMD). Short bouts of LiV improved bone and muscle mass, scientists found. (You can read the complete study here)
Marodyne LiV provides gentle low-level vibrations (0.4g) transmitted to the user at a high frequency (30Hz). The low-frequency vibrations delivered by Marodyne LiV stimulate the body’s Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) to produce bone. It also stimulates bone-building (osteoblast) activity and slows bone resorption (osteoclast).
The evidence for LiV is growing, with a 2020 study concluding, “The data are commensurate with the hypothesis that vibration therapy is protective against loss in mechanical strength and, further, that the intervention minimizes the shift from the osteoblastic to the adipocytic lineage of mesenchymal stem cells.” (You can find the complete study here)
You can read more about the evidence behind LiV here.
Put simply, Low-intensity Vibration works. At MyBones, we’re building a community of users and ambassadors who have experienced the benefits of LiV and are passionate about sharing it.
LiV is a drug-free preventative method for osteoporosis, with no side effects or contraindications. It’s a safe and sustainable way to reduce bone loss and revitalise bone growth in the body.
The earlier you start to improve your bone health, the better, so why not start today? Addressing any deficits in your diet, tackling your drink and stopping smoking are great places to start. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals in your diet, don’t be afraid to top-up with supplements.
Exercise is essential for all of us and even more so for those with poor bone health. You don’t need to run a marathon or ride your bike every day, instead build exercise into your everyday life. Get 30 minutes of exercise every couple of days and you’ll make significant improvements to your bone health.
While small lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on your bone health, spending 10 minutes a day on a Marodyne LiV is proven to prevent bone loss associated with osteopenia and osteoporosis. You can learn more about the benefits of LiV, including the latest scientific research, here.
Osteoporosis is a life-limiting condition that can affect your freedom and flexibility. Taking action today can help your body and your bones to fight back.
Before making significant changes to your diet, quitting smoking or starting a new exercise regime, speak to your doctor.
At MyBones, we’re committed to improving information and advice on osteoporosis, including things you can do to prevent osteoporosis. Check out our news section for the latest research and our in-depth guides on osteoporosis. Contact us for more information on Marodyne LiV, including how you can order your device today.