The importance of bone health for female athletes
Our bones play many roles within our bodies such as supplying structure, anchoring muscles, protecting vital organs and storing calcium. The health of your bones is important as our bones are continually changing with new bone being made and old bone broken down.
For most people, peak bone mass will be reached at around 30 years of age. From our mid-30s onwards, more bone is broken down than made, resulting in a gradual decrease in bone strength as we age.
Keeping your bones healthy is important to prevent Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when the structure of bone is compromised and becomes weaker. This makes your bones more prone to fractures as well as reduces your body’s ability to repair after a fracture, this can lead to chronic pain, disability, and reduced independence in the future.
What affects bone health?
Factors that may influence the health of your bones include:
- Age – as you age you are at greater risk
- Gender – women are at greater risk
- Diet – a diet low in calcium places you at greater risk
- Physical activity – physical inactivity places you at greater risk
- Bodyweight – Being underweight places you at greater risk
- Tobacco and alcohol use – tobacco & alcohol use place you at greater risk
- Family history – Having a family history of osteoporosis places you at greater risk
How does exercise affect my bones?
Vital at every age for maintaining strong and healthy bones, regular exercise is essential for preventing and treating osteoporosis. As bones are living tissue, exercise causes new bone tissue to form as your muscles push and pull against your bones. This in turn makes them stronger!
Weight-bearing and resistance exercises are the best for strengthening your bones. Weight-bearing exercises include walking, jogging, climbing stairs and team sports. Resistance exercises such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises are also effective.
How do I improve the health of my bones?
Whether you have osteoporosis or want to build stronger bones for the future, there are several things you can do.
- Eat a balanced diet
- Eat calcium-rich foods
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do weight-bearing or resistance exercises regularly
- Drink sensibly
- Quit smoking
- Sunlight (Vitamin D)