Wednesday, February 09, 2011
ROCHESTER, Minn. — With all the health concerns associated with aging, a broken bone may not seem so worrisome. But a bone fracture later in life can mean the end of mobility and independence, according to Mayo Clinic Health Letter.
One in four people who experiences a hip fracture requires skilled care for at least a year after the injury. In older adults, a hip fracture increases the chance of death within a year by up to 20 percent.
"Bone up on bone health," an eight-page supplement to the February issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter, offers practical steps to maintain strong bones. Highlights from the comprehensive overview include:
Exercise: Weight-bearing aerobic activities — such as walking, dancing, stair climbing or even gardening — help slow bone loss and provide cardiovascular benefits. Data from the Nurses' Health Study, which was collected from 60,000 women over 12 years, showed that walking for four or more hours a week reduced the risk of hip fracture by more than 40 percent.
Strength training activities also help slow mineral loss in bones. Strength training can involve weights, resistance bands or isometric exercises, where the body creates its own resistance. Special equipment isn't necessarily required. Weights can be socks filled with pennies. The newsletter supplement includes illustrations of several beneficial exercises.
Calcium: Getting adequate calcium and vitamin D reduces bone loss that occurs with age. About 99 percent of calcium in the body is in the bones and teeth. Calcium also is needed in the bloodstream to fulfill essential body functions. When calcium consumption is inadequate, the body taps calcium reserves in the bones, and bone density levels decrease.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption. Over time, vitamin D deficiency results in abnormal bone loss. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun stimulates the skin to make vitamin D. Spending 15 to 20 minutes in the sun two to three times a week is generally considered adequate, but Mayo Clinic dermatologists say food and supplements are safer sources of vitamin D.
Tobacco and alcohol: Smoking increases the rate of bone loss. And regularly drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol can hasten bone loss and reduce the ability to absorb calcium. A moderate level is considered no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today's health and medical news. To subscribe, please call 800-333-9037 (toll-free), extension 9771, or visit Mayo Clinic Health Letter Online.
Journalists can become a member of the Mayo Clinic News Network for the latest health, science and research news and access to video, audio, text and graphic elements that can be downloaded or embedded.
Learn more about becoming a patient at Mayo Clinic in the Patient & Visitor Guide.