“Osteoporosis Doesn’t Hold Me Back”

Photo by Brian Angelini

QVC model Christine Shields plans to be moving at full steam when she’s 90. The key to making that happen? A sound treatment plan to shore up her bones.

Who says you slow down as you get older? At 63, Christine Shields is growing three businesses that keep her hopping. As an on-air model for QVC, she works “all kinds of wacky hours.” She’s also a rep for her uncle’s lubricant business, selling oil and grease to farmers and auto body shops and she sells a cosmetic she swears keeps her skin glowing.

Keeping all the balls in the air takes energy and movement…lots of it. But that’s okay with Christine. “I think the key to having a fuller life is keeping active,” says the Yardley, PA, resident, who, between her three jobs, daily exercise, two daughters and boyfriend, seldom has a “down” moment. “I’d like to be busy when I’m 90. To do that, you’ve got to be aware of what’s happening to you.”

After a bone mineral density test at age 50, Christine discovered that she had osteopenia, or lower than normal bone mass. Still, she remained a bit lax about fending off further bone loss, she admits. But when a follow-up exam at age 55 showed that she had full-blown osteoporosis in her left hip, she decided it was time to get serious. “My thinking…I want the last of my life to be the best of my life.”

So she talked to her doctor and committed to a treatment plan that makes sense for her and gets bone mineral density tests as recommended by her doctor. “Everything looks fine.” One thing’s for sure, Christine’s learned her lesson. “Years ago, I took it for granted that my health was good. I just wasn’t thinking bones.”

Here’s what keeps Christine moving full-speed through her busy life:

Standing up straight. 
Maintaining good posture can prevent broken bones and disability, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). Proper posture also fends off kyphosis, or forward curvature of the upper back, that can result from broken bones in the spine. “You get that ‘old person’ look when you start rounding your shoulders forward,” says Christine.

Jumping at the chance to move!
Christine straps on light ankle weights to walk regularly with a neighbor and hits the gym four days a week. “I choose exercises like the leg press that build strength in my hips.” According to the International Council of Active Aging, a regular exercise program that includes resistance training and weight-bearing exercise helps maintain bone by stressing the spine. She also spends 15 minutes twice a day on her rebounder [mini-trampoline].

Getting mineral savvy.
Christine supplements with calcium and magnesium. The NOF recommends 1,200 mg of calcium daily for women age 51 and older, and men age 71 and older. (Men age 70 and younger require 1,000 mg daily.) Meanwhile, magnesium is necessary for calcium transport, says the National Institutes of Health. The RDA for magnesium for men and women age 51 and up is 420 mg and 320 mg, respectively.

Making digestion- and bone-friendly food choices.
Christine focuses her diet around salads, vegetables and fruit. According to the NOF, produce has lots of vitamins and minerals that help neutralize digestive acids that can lower bone density.

Maintaining a “just right” weight.
Though she’s always been slim enough to model, Christine resists getting too thin. “I see some models who are walking candidates for future bone breaks.” Indeed, being too thin increases your fracture risk.

Published March 2014

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