Many women look noticeably shorter, slouch more often or easily get bone fractures from falls as they age.
During menopause, the body of the woman starts producing less and less female hormones. This sudden drop in hormones before a woman’s last period causes rapid loss of calcium in the bones, which lowers the bone density.
Other factors such as malnutrition, calcium deficiency or lack of exercise are also likely to cause a bone disease called osteoporosis, meaning porous bones.
Osteoporosis may lead to pain, deformity of the spine and bone fractures, affecting one’s general health and daily activities. It is always advisable to take preventative measures and protect the bones.
First and foremost, make sure you get the right amount of nutrition. The bone density depends hugely on calcium intake. Having a balanced diet and getting sun exposure for about 20 to 30 minutes a day can help the formation of vitamin D, which promotes calcium absorption in the gut, and accelerates bone repair and bone regeneration.
Second, engage in adequate and appropriate physical activities. Weight-bearing exercises and resistance exercises can stimulate blood circulation in bones and increase the density and endurance of bones. Once the bones become stronger and denser, osteoporosis is less likely to occur.
Weight-bearing exercises and resistance exercises are strengthening activities that require the body to do some work while bearing loads or resisting external forces and weights.
Some easy examples are walking, stair climbing, running or squatting. Advanced trainings include weightlifting, low impact aerobic dancing and exercises performed on cardio machines. These trainings differ in forms, but they can all help stop the slide toward osteoporosis.
The frequency, intensity and the number of body parts involved during the strengthening exercises determine the improvement of bone density.
Health-conscious individuals should exercise at least three times a week and at least 30 minutes per session. Choose the right level of exercises which are not too easy or too challenging. Always consult professional trainers before starting any physical workout alone.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 21
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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