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When we think of bones, we don’t imagine them to look like a sponge, filled with pores. But for the more than three million people diagnosed with osteoporosis each year, that is exactly how their bones look.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is a disease where the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. The result is bones that are weakened and prone to fracture. Every year, more than a third of all people over 65 will fall. Many of these falls result in a fracture.

Women are at the greatest risk of developing osteoporosis, although it also occurs in men. If you are over age 50, bone density testing should be on your to-do list. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to help reduce your risk of a fracture.

Wear proper shoes. Low-heeled shoes with rubber soles provide better traction on varying surfaces.

Slip-proof your bathroom. Install grab bars on your bathroom walls and place a non-skid rubber mat on the shower floor. If your balance is off, add a plastic chair that is intended for bath use.

Live healthily. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption promote bone loss. Eat a balanced diet that includes calcium-rich foods, such as dark leafy greens, milk, yogurt, and cheese.

Get extra calcium. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, females 50 and younger should take 1000 mg daily. Those 51 and up should take 1200 mg daily. Men 70 and younger should take 1000 mg daily and those 71 and up should take 1200 mg daily.

Get extra vitamin D. The National Osteoporosis Foundation also recommends that both women and men under age 50 take 400-800 IUs of vitamin D daily. Those 50 and over should take 800-1000 IUs daily. Spend time outside in our beautiful Central Oregon surroundings and soak in the sun. But don’t forget to apply sunscreen of 30 SPF when outside for longer than twenty minutes or when outdoors during peak sun hours of 10 am – 2 pm.

Schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist. A physical therapist can develop a treatment plan that includes weight-bearing and resistance exercise to help strengthen and build bones while improving posture. They may also recommend lifestyle adaptations to limit your risk of a fall. Lastly, they will also address any potential balance issues that can increase your risk of a fall.

Do what you can today to prevent a fracture tomorrow. If you have concerns about balance and your risk of a fall, schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist or your primary care doctor today.

More tips for preventing fractures can be found here.