Most women already know too well their risks for osteoporosis. As women age, they lose bone density at a rate much faster than men, meaning bones become weak, brittle and easily broken. This results in one of the most disastrous kinds of trauma the human body can sustain: broken hips. At older ages, the body doesn’t heal as quickly, and a fracture of the hip usually spells the rest of one’s life attached to a walker, in a wheelchair or even confined to a bed. It should be no surprise that older women who fracture a hip are five times more likely to die within a year either from complications of the break or from underlying conditions.
Because women are four times as likely as men to suffer osteoporosis in their 50s and 60s, women must be especially careful to take steps to avoid the condition – and any hip fractures that may result. Here are some tips to help women of all ages keep their bones, and their hips, healthy.
Eat for Health
As tempting as it is to eat for aesthetics – we all want to look slim and toned – it is more important in the long run to eat for health. While that does mean eating a balance of macronutrients, or proteins, carbs and fats, it also means getting in the requisite amount of vitamins and minerals. This is true for all women, beginning in childhood and lasting into old age; bones begin to lose density around age 30, but it can happen before when the body lacks proper nutrition.
For women younger than 50, the primary goal should be about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. After 50, calcium doses should increase to 1,200 milligrams per day. Women should also absorb from 600 to 700 IU of vitamin D per day, which can easily be obtained from about 30 minutes of sunlight exposure a few times per week.
Get and Stay Strong
Muscles don’t just look nice; they also keep a woman strong and stable as she walks through life (in heels or otherwise). Ideally starting young, when the body is more flexible and capable of change, women should get in the habit of exercising to build muscle.
This doesn’t mean spending hours on cardio machines – in fact, too much cardio will cause the body to digest muscle tissue. Rather, women should have a healthy mix of strength training exercises, flexibility exercises, and cardio. Women who feel uncomfortable doing this on their own should seek the services of a personal trainer.
When some women begin the strength- and mobility-gaining journey, they find their hip hurting or popping uncomfortably. This could be due to bursitis, strain or some other non-permanent or non- threatening issue – or it could be something else. It is important to see a doctor for hip pain relief, especially amongst women of a certain age. A trained medical professional will be able to ascertain the cause of the pain, provide treatment and offer an exercise plan to prevent such an issue in the future.
Quit Bad Habits
Taking supplements, eating nutritious foods, exercising the right way and trusting doctors will only get one so far if a woman refuses to quit habits that continue to harm her bones. Some terrible habits that must be kicked immediately include:
Smoking. Cigarettes contain all sorts of chemicals that eat away at all the body’s tissues, including the bones. Other forms of nicotine consumption, including vaping, are no better and should also be stopped.
Drinking. Women don’t have to give up on alcohol altogether, but they should severely limit consumption. First, alcohol increases cortisol and decreases testosterone and estrogen, weakening bones; secondly, alcohol impairs the senses, increasing the likelihood of a fall.
Eating salts. Eating one gram of sodium more than recommended is correlated to an increased 1 percent annual loss of bone density – which is huge. At most, women should consume 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day and no more.
Maintain Eye Health, Too
Hips rarely break out of nowhere; hip fractures are caused by falls, which occur when multiple parts of the body fail. Often, women fall because they don’t see an obstacle and trip over it, crunching their hip as they land. Therefore, it is equally important that women strive to maintain their eye health so they can see any potential dangers to their hips as they age.
The good news is that eyes benefit from the same treatment as bones: They need exercise and a balanced diet (which results in a healthy weight) and they suffer from bad habits like smoking and drinking. Women should also be careful to wear sufficient eye protection, especially blue-blocking sunglasses whenever they go outside. This will reduce the onset of dry macular degeneration or age-related blindness.