Focus on fitness
Since your bone-mineral density starts slowly decreasing around age 30, weight-bearing exercise—such as walking—is a must at that age, says Caroline Snobelen, a personal trainer in Toronto. “[Because it] stimulates bone growth, weight-bearing exercise, where the muscles support the body’s weight in motion against gravity, is the very best thing you can do for your body,” she says. Snobelen recommends walking at a brisk pace at least four or five days a week. And since walking is not weight bearing for your upper body, which can get weak from sitting, strengthening your upper-back muscles 2–3 times weekly is important, too. “If you have strong muscles in your upper back, they will support your spine and keep your posture erect.”
It’s also important to schedule regular exercise during your 20s and 30s (and at every age, really) to prevent diabetes and maintain heart health. “It’s easy to let it slide because you think you’re young and healthy,” says Dr. Abramson, “but you really need to start these healthy patterns at a young age.”
Balance the scales
Gaining weight around your middle certainly makes it challenging to find perfect-fitting jeans. But compared to a hippy, pear-shaped physique, an apple-shaped body also increases your odds of developing diabetes and heart disease, as there is a relationship between abdominal obesity and metabolic diseases. “Read labels to make healthier food choices and try to keep your weight within the healthy range using the BMI [body mass index] scale,” says Donna Lillie, vice-president of research and professional education at the Canadian Diabetes Association. That means not being underweight, either. Bulimia, anorexia and too much exercise can halt menstruation, thereby limiting the production of estrogen, an important hormone for maintaining bone health, according to Osteoporosis Canada.
Eat disease-fighting foods
To reduce your risk of osteoporosis, limit those morning espressos—caffeine increases the loss of calcium. Make sure you’re consuming at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily (about three glasses of milk). “If you’re a healthy woman in your 20s or 30s and you eat enough calcium in your diet, there’s no need to take calcium supplements,” says Dr. Simon Carette, rheumatologist and professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. Not a dairy fan? Take a calcium supplement.
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