Falls Break Bones, Not Osteoporosis

Weight lifting class
November 30, 2015
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.

Most of my senior patients are worried about osteoporosis.

Why shouldn’t they be? When you reach a certain age, you start seeing friends who break a hip quickly degrade toward ill health and death. It’s a sudden, frightening, and serious health risk.

Only one problem—osteoporosis isn’t to blame.

Today, I want to tell you why you should relax a bit about osteoporosis. I’ll also explore what you should actually be afraid of—and what you can do to ensure your bones remain intact.

It’s Not Bones, It’s Balance

The vast majority of bone breaks in seniors aren’t caused by osteoporosis. They’re caused by falls.

Of course, more brittle bones can break more easily. But most seniors with broken bones don’t have osteoporosis. Rather, they suffer fractures because they are losing their balance.

This is the true enemy. Your bones can be entirely healthy, but if you are unsteady on your feet, the density of your bones doesn’t matter that much.

Seniors in general are at greater risk for fractures because bone density decreases with age, whether or not osteoporosis is present.

In other words, the true danger isn’t in your bones, it’s in your brain.

That’s because many seniors become less active as they grow older. And as they grow less active, the functionality of their brain decreases—especially in regards to muscle control, spatial awareness, and balance.

That’s a recipe for falls. And it is those falls—not osteoporosis—that are the true killer.

Three Steps To Improved Brain Health And Balance

Fortunately, improving brain functionality can be easy. It can even be enjoyable. Let’s look at the three most effective ways to regain your footing.

1. Exercise

You probably aren’t surprised that exercising your body will help you find your balance.

But you may be surprised what works best.

It isn’t Pilates. It isn’t aerobics. It isn’t even yoga.

The best thing you can do to increase your proprioception—your body awareness—is to lift weights.

You don’t have to sling large amounts of iron. You just need to lift something. Even if that something is just the weight of your own body.

This is extremely beneficial because lifting weight involves coordinating many different muscles groups. Doing a squat—while holding weights, or not—primarily involves your abs, your thighs, your glutes, and your back.

Doing a push-up activates your abs, your biceps, your triceps, your glutes, and plenty of other muscles.

Doing a chin-up uses every part of your arm, while your torso stabilizes.

Doing a bicep curl alone only activates a couple groups—which isn’t all that helpful. But if you do a bicep curl while balancing on an inflated disc, you’re coordinating all sorts of muscles together.

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Again, how much you lift isn’t important. Your body weight alone is enough.

What is important is that you involve as many muscle groups as possible in your exercise. And that you do it at least twice a week, so you can truly train your brain function.

It’s not about having a svelte build. It’s about your neural pathways.

Of course, if you want to do yoga too, I certainly won’t discourage that.

2. Be Active

If you are committed to an exercise regimen, but you spend the rest of your time watching TV on the couch, you’re undoing all your good practice.

It’s extremely important that you stay active.

That means you should get up and move around at least once an hour. And once a day, you should take a long walk, a small jog, or swim for a bit in the pool.

How you choose to move is entirely up to you. What matters is that you do move—and you do so throughout the day.

I have 80 year old patients who have better balance and body awareness than 40 year olds. What we sometimes excuse as aging is really atrophy of brain function, due to inactivity.

You don’t need to enter any ironman competitions, or run a marathon (although if you stay active, that can be an option your entire life). All you need to do is make sure you move around plenty each and every day.

3. Eat Right

Eating healthy is one of the best ways to feed your brain, and keep it functioning at a high level.

What does that mean? You should aim to consume plenty of healthy omega-3 oils, Vitamin D3, and curcumin.

All do wonders for brain function.

In addition, if you feel you’re not getting enough brain nutrition, supplements can be very useful.

There are certain peptides—chemicals that activate our organs—which our brain craves.

Cerluten is a great example. The Russian military actually uses this to help treat brain injuries. And I’ve seen it result in the first spoken words of an autistic child.

And one of my colleagues, Dr. Vida, raved when she took a supplement rich in curcumin. She said she’d never felt so aware or awake.

Healthy eating is a great start. But many peptides like Cerluten aren’t found in natural foods. Supplements are the only way to introduce more to your system.

Look for a supplement that contains at least 200 mg of Cerluten. And try to get at least 500 mg curcumin each day.

By combining healthy eating habits, exercise, an active routine, and supplements when warranted, you can eliminate balance problems—during your senior years, or even when younger.

So don’t worry so much about osteoporosis, in yourself or those you love. Instead, focus on balance. If you don’t fall, you won’t break.

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