Healthy bones, healthy bodies
MUNCY – Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women across the world with increasing odds as age progresses. To help women measure their risk for accelerated bone loss, free posture screenings and bone density scans were given at the Life Center in the Lycoming Mall on Wednesday afternoon, May 9.
Physical Therapist Bonnie Dodge from Susquehanna Health gave a free program on building bone mass and stimulating metabolism by using free weights. “We start losing bone mass around 30 and it peaks between the ages of 18 to 25,” she said. “Take action now to maintain bone loss and keep them stronger.” It’s never too late because bone is a living tissue that is constantly being renewed.
Exercise is foremost. It helps guard against any kind of bone loss and supports balance and control. Dodge recommends any kind of weight bearing exercises and gave a hands-on demonstration on some ways to prevent bone deterioration by strengthening the muscles that support them. “Walking, dancing, swimming and stair climbing provide a cushion for our bones and postural health,” she said. ‘Without balance, we have no optimal strength.” Keeping the spine straight is important because not only does it contain the largest set of bones, but it affects movement for the rest of the body. “The spine is the number one area where bones are affected the most in osteoporosis.”
Eating calcium rich foods with Vitamin D is also essential. Osteoporosis often affects the hips, and wrists can easily fracture. “We need more than 600 mgs of calcium added to our diets everyday,” Dodge said. Daily calcium requirements for those over 51 should be 1200 mgs.
“You should also remove all throw rugs in your home,” she added. “They are always a hazard and a high risk for falling.” Other precautions are to never leave shoes or items in walkways on the floor, wear seat belts and protective equipment in sports, install grab bars in the bathroom, and use night lights to keep paths lit at night when getting up to use the bathroom.
Taking calcium and Vitamin D supplements and balancing hormones such as estrogen promotes healthy bones. “We have 15 percent skeletal loss five years after menopause begins. And men after the age of 65 should also take calcium supplements,” she said. A bone mineral density test was available at no cost for all participants which measures bone density, not bone mass. It can determine if there are any risks for osteoporosis.
“Medications with steroids can put you at risk for osteoporosis,” she added. There are some medications for treatment, such as Actonel and Fosamex but there are risks. They are mostly used for those at high risk of fracture. “Have a good discussion with your family doctor first.” In the meantime, there are some simple exercises to impact bones like jumping jacks or jumping rope. “Strong muscles help posture. It defeats gravity,” said Dodge.
Using free weights she demonstrated some simple exercises to do everyday to help keep bones strong.
Holding a 2 to 5 pound weight in each hand, bend both knees comfortably and bend one elbow up. Strengthen knees out, and press the weight up across the body and over the head. Bend knees again while lowering the weight and bend the opposite elbow up. Strengthen knees and press opposite arm up across the body. Alternate each arm and repeat several times. “These are the ‘X’ combos which we use in physical therapy,” Dodge said during the demonstration.
Some exercises can be done while sitting in a chair. While holding free weights, slowly raise arms to the sides until almost shoulder level.
A posture grid is also used to see how the spine is in proper alignment. It is a measurement tool to assess alignment and check for hyper-extension of the knees. “It gives us good feedback,” said Sheri Berthold, also a physical therapist with Susquehanna Health. Berthold was taking photos of each guest to see how their alignment matched up with their frame along the posture grid.
Lois Smith from Watsontown said she came to the program in order to learn some exercises and techniques to prevent bone loss.
Future programs to learn more about prevention, treatment options and hip pain will be presented on May 22 and June 12. Susquehanna Health will present “Your Hips Don’t Lie” on Tuesday, May 22 at the Williamsport Medical Center from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and ‘Stability Ball Exercises’ will be given at the Eastern Lycoming YMCA in Muncy on Tuesday, June 12 at 6 p.m. To register call 1-877-883-4791.