“Standing Strong – Our Living Framework”
I have been reading a book called The Strong Women’s Guide to Total Health. I like this book, not only for its great title, but because it is easy to read and understand, with sensible health information.
As I was reading the section titled “Standing Strong; Our Living Framework,” I began to think about mothers and grandmothers. When I was a child, my maternal grandmother seemed to be a giant – tall and strong. By her 90th birthday, she had lost more than 6 inches in height and had very little muscle tone. She had absolutely no interest in exercise, satisfied that walking her dog and weeding her garden were quite enough.
My 87 year-old mother-in-law is now shorter than my 10-year old son. She, too, has lost a substantial amount of height, strength and stamina. Whenever we mention any sort of exercise, or nutritional advice, she nods politely, but I can tell she is mentally brushing us off.
On the other hand, my mother tries to eat a diet that promotes bone strength. I take 1200 mg of calcium/day, and do weight bearing exercise. My 13-year old daughter grumbles, but agrees to take her calcium and vitamin D supplements most of the time. What will this mean as we age?
Well, the hope is that our bones, muscles and connective tissue will be strong enough to sustain us through 9, 10 or more decades of high-quality life. Building strong bones at an early age – during childhood and adolescence – is our best defense against developing osteoporosis later in life. But no matter how old you are, it is never too late to start taking care of your bones.
Some factors that affect your bone health, such as age, gender and genes, are beyond your control. However, lifestyle choices, especially diet and physical activity, are responsible for up to 50% of bone mass and structure. Getting enough Calcium and Vitamin D in your diet, and some sort of weight bearing physical activity are highly recommended for people of all ages.
More information about prevention of osteoporosis and age-related bone degeneration can be found at the The National Osteoporosis Foundation website.
You can also visit the excellent women’s health site from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Guest Editor, Debora Harvey, Patient Navigator