Bone Up on Bone Loss

Better Nutrition|June 2020

Bone Up on Bone Loss
What do chairs, hiking, mineral flow, and estrogen have in common? They all play a role in whether or not your bones deteriorate with age
By Emily A. Kane

Q What’s the deal with people getting shorter as they age? Is that inevitable? Is it a good idea to load up on calcium and other bone supplements?

Yes, we tend to shrink a bit with age. This is mostly due to gravity, and one of the reasons I’m wild about trapeze yoga, which features hanging upside down. Inversion tables work too, and so does old-fashioned hanging from a chin-up bar.

If our bone density is compromised, gravity’s pull is even more effective in compressing and even crushing bone structures. What we’re mostly talking about here is the lumbar vertebrae— sitting is pretty wretched for the lower back, and tends to reverse that natural lumbar curve. If you sit a lot, please use an ergodynamic chair (with built-in lumbar support) or a lumbar pillow. When you sit and type, your feet should be flat on the ground and your thighs and lower arms should be parallel to the ground. A small seat is better than a wide seat to prevent slumping. How you sit impacts back pain and the likeliness of losing bone in the large vertebrae that support the weight of the upper body.

The other large bones that can lose density over time are the femurs (thigh bones). The best way by far to maintain their integrity is to walk and hike regularly. Take the stairs whenever possible. Park a little further from your office and build in a walk twice a day during the week. Hike longer with more ups and downs during the weekend.

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June 2020