Osteoporosis ("porous bones") is by far the most common bone disease, marked by an increased risk of bone fractures due to weak or thin bones. Although it is often equated with postmenopausal women, men aren't safe from osteoporosis either. According to a 2012 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4 percent of men over 50 years of age have the bone disease, and 38 percent of men in that age group have a condition called low bone mass (often a precursor to osteoporosis).
What's more, research suggests that one out of five men over 50 years old get at least one bone fracture in their lives. And though fractures are less common in men (about half of women over 50 are expected to get a bone fracture), the outcomes of their fractures are more serious. "The mortality from fractures is higher in men," says Dr. René Rizzoli, head of the Division of Bone Diseases at Geneva University Hospitals in Switzerland.
Osteoporosis and bone fractures don't have to be a part of the aging process – they can usually be prevented with certain lifestyle changes. Here are 10 simple tips to keep your bones healthy and strong.
Regular exercise is crucial to a healthy life, but when it comes to your bones, not all exercise is created equal. For strong bones, experts recommend weight-bearing exercises and muscle-strengthening exercises. "Anything you do on your feet – walking, running, jumping, skiing – is good for bone health," Dr. Lewiecki says. On the other hand, non-impact exercises aren't effective for building strong bones. "Swimming is great for the cardiovascular system, but it doesn't help much with bones," Dr. Rizzoli says.
Why does exercise help make strong bones? Bones are living tissues that are constantly changing – some cells add calcium to bones, while other cells remove the mineral from bones. When you stress your bones through physical activity, the cells increase the rate of calcium addition, causing the bones to grow denser.
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