“Because of Osteoporosis...”

Let an osteoporosis diagnosis help you upgrade to a bone healthy lifestyle.

By Cheryl Solimini

When these women learned they had osteoporosis, they didn’t take the diagnosis lying down. Instead, they started working closely with their healthcare team and making these little lifestyle tweaks to help keep their bones as strong as possible.

“My family’s on top of their bone health, too.”
Shelley Powers of Los Gatos, CA, knew her father had fractured both hips, but she didn’t realize that meant her risk for osteoporosis was high. So it wasn’t until 2005, when persistent back pain led to a bone density test, that the then-53-year-old found out she had osteoporosis. “Because of me, my daughters had bone density tests done. Now they have a baseline comparison for when they enter menopause. They are more aware of the risks and are taking steps now to lower them.”

“I seek calm.”
Tension and anxiety can contribute to bone loss by releasing cortisol, a stress hormone that blocks the bone-building effects of progesterone. “I do yoga and meditate every day,” says Sandi Elkin of Rowland Heights, CA. “I’ll use guided imagery to defuse stressful situations, like going to the dentist. And I’ll say affirmations to focus on the positives: ‘I am strong today. I am fracture-free.’ ”

“I sit up straighter.”
“Posture keeps the spine from compressing, but it also affects your attitude,” says Sally Fullman of Murray Hill, NJ, who discovered she had osteoporosis after falling and breaking her ankle. “I consciously elevate my vertebrae and keep my shoulders back—even if I have to remind myself 20 times a day!”

Good posture bonus! When you’re on your feet, be sure to stand tall, tuck in your tummy and expand your chest. This “high-power” pose boosts confidence and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, say Harvard researchers.

“My balance is better.”
“If I’m in line at the supermarket or standing talking on the phone, I will lift a foot up or off to the side,” says Sally. The simple exercise improves balance, helping to fend off falls.

“I listen to my back.”
“My back doesn’t like it when I sit too long,” says Shelley, a retired teacher and school librarian, who is now the coordinator of American Bone Health’s (americanbonehealth.org) volunteer program. “At meetings, I’ll often stand up and even walk around. As soon as I do, so does everyone else! It’s like I’ve given them license to give their bodies a break, too.”

“I’m in the best shape ever!”
“Before I was diagnosed with osteoporosis, I didn’t exercise, I guzzled soda [known to rob bones of calcium] and wolfed down French fries and hamburgers,” Sandi says. “I feel lucky that this condition led me to become more fit, which affects every area of my life.”

“I rack up the miles!”
Shelley wears a pedometer every day. “It’s part of my outfit now. “I try to get in 10,000 steps a day and usually do!” Simply wearing a pedometer encourages people to take an extra 2,000 steps—that’s about one mile!—a day, say Stanford researchers.

“I monitor my movement.” 
Sally regularly reminds herself, “Squat, rather than bend, to pick up something, to lower my risk for compression fracture.” Indeed, bending forward can cause the hairline breaks that can eventually lead to curvature of the spine.

“I’ve refined my palate!”
“I’ve discovered almond milk, collard greens, bok choy—things I had never tried in my life! I have a little garden and now I grow my own dinosaur kale and herbs,” says Sally. She also turns to calcium-rich grains such as chia seeds, quinoa and farro. “I’m always looking for great recipes on how to prepare them, too.”

New to farro? Replace the rice or pasta in your favorite dishes with this nutty grain. To prepare, add one part farro to two parts boiling water. Bring to a boil, partially cover and cook 30-45 minutes, or until tender.

Published March 2014

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5 Ways to Stay Positive
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Posture Dos and Don’ts
Preventing Falls Outside the Home
11 Ways to Prevent Falls
Building a Case for Good Bone Health
5 Ways to Mend a Break

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Help Boost Bone Health With These Easy Exercises
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