Think brittle bones are something only women need to worry about? It’s a common misconception. A recent study conducted by Osteoporosis Australia found that over 30% of Australian men aged 18- 34 believe that poor bone health is rare in men, and almost 60% do not believe they are at risk. Almost 2% of men surveyed also believe that men are not able to suffer from poor bone health, or develop osteoporosis, at all.
While it is true that osteoporosis more commonly affects women, due to the rapid decline in oestrogen after menopause, bone health is also an important issue for men to be aware of. Osteoporosis Australia says that 30% of Australian men will suffer a broken bone as a result of osteoporosis. Worldwide, one in five men over 50 will have an osteoporotic fracture, and one third of all hip fractures occur in men. In fact, men are more likely to experience an osteoporotic fracture than to develop prostate cancer.
For men over 50 who experience a broken bone from a minor bump or fall, Osteoporosis Australia says it is important to talk with your doctor about bone health, as the underlying cause could be low bone density.
4 steps to better bone health
So what can men do to keep their bones healthy? Many of the guidelines apply to both men and women, and involve a mix of healthy lifestyle changes.
1. Exercise regularly
Taking part in regular exercise is an excellent way to build strong bones. Weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises such as jogging, hiking, brisk walking, playing tennis, or weight lifting are all beneficial. Recent research has also found that yoga can be a great choice for encouraging healthy bones.
2. Feed your bones
Fill up on bone-healthy nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and protein to keep your bones and muscles strong. The easiest way to get these nutrients is through dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese – but if you can’t have dairy, calcium is also found in certain fruits and vegetables (such as kale, broccoli and apricots), canned fish with bones (such as sardines), and some fortified foods. You should also make sure you get adequate (safe) exposure to sunlight daily, to soak up the vitamin D.
3. Stop smoking and reduce drinking
Smoking increases your risk of breaking a bone by 29% and suffering a hip fracture by 68%. Drinking a lot of alcohol increases your fracture risk, so remember: all things in moderation.
4. Know your risk factors
Talk to your doctor and make sure you are aware of any risk factors that can increase your likelihood of osteoporosis and fractures. For example, being underweight puts you at a higher risk, so maintaining a healthy weight is an important step towards protecting your bones. Studies show that men are less likely than women to visit a doctor, but especially as you get older, it is essential to develop a good relationship with your GP and have regular check-ups to monitor the many different aspects of your health.
Source: World Osteoporosis Day