It's true that men are less likely than women to get osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones brittle and breakable. But if you think you're in the clear just because you're a guy, you're dead wrong. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, millions of men have the disease, and one in four guys over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. And we're not just talking about an ankle or wrist – about 80,000 men break their hips every year, and guys are more likely than women to die after a hip fracture.
Even if 50 is far off, how you treat your bones today impacts how strong they'll stay down the road. Bones are living tissues that are continually building, breaking down, and rebuilding. And while this process usually goes off without a hitch when you're young, after about age 20, it starts stalling and can fall out of whack, especially if bones aren't getting the proper nutrients or activity. The result is less dense, more fragile bones, putting you on the fast track to osteoporosis. Here are the best ways to keep your skeleton sturdy.
Do weight-bearing exercises.
Pretty much all types of aerobic exercise help maintain muscle strength, coordination, and balance, all of which help keep you from stumbling and breaking a bone. That's a huge boon for bone health. But weight-bearing workouts such as running, hiking, racquetball, soccer – anything where your legs or arms must work against gravity to bear your bodyweight – are also vital for "loading" your bones, a.k.a. keeping them strong. Unfortunately, cycling and swimming don't count as weight-bearing – both are awesome aerobically, but they don't require bones and muscles to hold up your body. "Although it's really tough for adults to increase bone mass with exercise, doing weight-bearing workouts most days of the week helps maintain bone mass and prevents the drop in density that occurs when you don't exercise," Recker says. "Stay as active as possible. Your bones almost can't get too much physical activity."
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