In Your 20s - Steps to Prevent Osteoporosis

Building bone density in your 20s pays off in the long run.

Hardly anyone gets osteoporosis in their 20s – if they do it is usually a consequence of another disease or from taking glucosteroid medications. But a substantial fraction of women (and men, too) in their 20s will have bone issues in the next 50 years. Stronger bones when young means a lower chance of osteoporosis and osteopenia in the senior years..

What you can do

Eat right – A healthy diet reduces the risk of many health problems. You don’t need anything special for bone health as a balanced diet should provide enough calcium and Vitamin D. No supplements are needed.

Don’t smoke – another no brainer that affects health in many areas, including bone health.

Exercise, exercise, and exercise – This is the toughest thing, but possibly the most beneficial. Building strength in your bones now will help them cope with aging later. (And make no mistake; exercise isn’t just about building muscle and endurance – bones can gain strength, too.) Aerobic exercise is great for your cardiovascular system and to control weight, but to really strengthen those bones, weight-bearing exercise is best. Your bone density doesn’t typically increase significantly when you are an adult, but exercise can maintain it, and intense exercise can result in increases in bone mass.

Don’t stress too much about what kind of exercise; just get moving regularly and see about incorporating some movement that places stress on the bones to promote strengthening of the bony tissue. Britain’s National Health Service recommends at least two sessions of muscle strengthening exercise per week. Some sports combine aerobic and anaerobic activity. These include team sports like soccer, baseball, and basketball.

Repetitive weight exercises increase bone density most visibly in the adolescent years, although they still help during adulthood and after menopause. Bone density continues to increase into the 20s and in some cases, the 30s. Building bone now pays off in the long run.

Exercise will also improve joint mobility and balance, although those are usually of greater concern in older folks.

It can be hard to stay on an exercise program. Some find exercise dull or inconvenient or too expensive. Keep at it though, for the long run, and change up your routines if you get bored. It is common for an exercise program to be disrupted by health problems, changes in job type or hours, personal relationships, and vacations. Getting back on track can be tough, but is an important step in maintaining the benefits of exercise.

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