Osteoporosis: Is it Possible to Still Run?


Is it Possible to Run with Osteoporosis?

Running is proven as an effective way of keeping yourself healthy. Jogging and sprinting for at least three times a week can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Moreover, it lets you stay and look fit. However, in some cases, it can also aggravate a myriad of health conditions, including individuals that suffer from osteoporosis, an infirmity that weakens the bones and makes them fragile and more likely to break. For runners, it is a major setback that would negatively affect their running routines, if that is the case, is it still possible for someone to run with this condition?

Luckily there are a certain number of athletes that deal with osteoporosis every day. Medical experts have cleared the exercise when it is combined with proper diet and nutrition. Furthermore, adequate knowledge of the do’s and don’ts of osteoporosis also come in handy when it comes to dealing with its characteristic manifestations.

However, to completely understand the infirmity, it is important that we know its common symptoms, causes, and diagnosis. Equally important is to understand various treatment methods of osteoporosis and how to prevent its manifestations from ruining your running experience. Julie Isphording, a famous American female Olympian, and long distance runner once said,

Run Often. Run Long. But, never outrun your joy of running,” it certainly isn’t too late. Read On!

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disorder that happens when the body starts to lose bone mass, makes too little, or both in many instances. As a result, it weakens our body’s structural organ (bones) and in some situations can easily break from a fall or in more severe cases, from sneezing or minor bumps.

The word osteoporosis means “porous bone.” When viewed under the microscope, healthy bone tissue (a combination of calcium phosphate and collagen) looks like a honeycomb. In cases with individuals that have the infirmity, the holes, and spaces in the comb are much larger, compromising the structural integrity of the rigid organ. Osteoporotic bones become less dense and are more likely to break compared to healthy ones.

Older patients are more susceptible to serious complications of osteoporosis, most especially in cases where there is a history of bone related injuries, a common thing amongst athletes and avid runners. Aside from having bad posture, patients beyond their 50’s are also likely to have fractures in their hip, spine, and wrist. Bones in other regions of the body are also susceptive to breaking, especially when it involves inadvertent trauma like vehicular accidents and accidental fall.

Other older patients also become shorter when osteoporosis affects their spine. Usually, people with this medical malady have a stooped or hunched posture. Additionally, the mortality rate for senior citizens are also high, twenty percent of them die within a year from complications related to a broken bone, or the surgery to repair it. Complete healing often requires long-term home care given by caregivers and nurses. In many circumstances, it can also limit an individual’s mobility, a key factor for most runners, but help from physicians and physical therapists can drastically improve movement.

In its overall scope, osteoporosis is responsible for two million broken bones in the US every year. Expenses relating to the infirmity is estimated around $19 billion, and by 2025, medical experts foretell that it will be responsible for three million breakages and at least $25 million in annual costs.


It is hard to tell early stages of osteoporosis, most of the time there are no typical signs in the initial stages of bone degeneration. In most cases, an affected individual might not be aware of the infirmity until a fracture occurs. In some cases, indications and common physical manifestations include:

  • A hunched posture
  • Back pain (can be caused by a fractured or collapsed hernia)
  • Becoming shorter over time ( caused by a slouching posture due to weakening of the spine)
  • Bone fractures that occur more quickly than least expected


Medical studies have shown that osteoporosis roots from the lack of several hormones. Estrogen deficit in women and androgen deficiency in men are likely causes of the infirmity. Women in their 50’s are more susceptible to acquire this malady than men in the same age. Menopause accompanied by lower estrogen levels increases the risk of the medical ailment, but other factors can also contribute to the rapid bone loss. In many instances, lack of calcium and vitamin D can also lead to a weakened bone structure. The absence of weight bearing exercises and changes in endocrine functions also increase its risks.

Recent studies have also shown a connection between abuse of corticosteroids and osteoporosis. Other factors include preexisting conditions like thyroid problems, lack of muscle mass, bone cancer, and certain genetic disorders. Other experts also attribute low bone mass to the ailment.  According to several researchers, an individual’s susceptibility to the disease relies partly on the amount of bone mass a person has attained during his/her youth, the more accumulated bone, the less chance of developing osteoporosis later in life.

Risk factors

Like many diseases, osteoporosis can occur due to preexisting factors. These determinants increase the probability of acquiring the medical malady, but in some situations, it arises from poor lifestyle choices including poor diet and lack of exercise. It can also occur because of certain medical ailments and their similar treatments. These factors are preventable through medical intervention, but some determinants are outside of the patient’s control, like:

  • Age
  • Body structure
  • Family History
  • Hormone levels
  • Race (studies have shown that individuals that have an Asian and Caucasian lineage are at higher risk of having the
  • infirmity)
  • Sex (women are more susceptible to osteoporosis)

Aside from these common factors, people with certain ailments also have greater risks for osteoporosis including:

  • Individuals that have reduced sex hormone levels
  • Patients with thyroid problems
  • People that have an overactive parathyroid and adrenal glands.

The chance is also high for individuals that have:

  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Lupus
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Dietary factors

Like all diseases, osteoporosis can also occur due to a poor diet. Inadequate food choices can increase the risk of having the infirmity later in life. In some cases, certain eating disorders can also trigger the deterioration of the bone, individuals who lack nutrition or are suffering from diet-related illnesses are more prone to osteoporosis than people with regular eating habits. Dietary factors include:

Low calcium consumption. It is singlehandedly one of the essential nutrients to prevent osteoporosis. Calcium deficiency plays a significant part in the advancement of the malady. Low CA intake diminishes bone density and is responsible for the onset of advanced bone loss.

Eating disorders. Several studies have shown that limiting food intake and being underweight decreases bone mass in both men and women.

Gastrointestinal operations. Restricting the size of the stomach or removing parts of the intestine limits the amount of surface area available to absorb essential nutrients like calcium.

Steroids and other medication. Long-term use of oral or injected corticosteroid drugs like prednisone and cortisone interferes with the bone regeneration process.

Other drugs that are found to increase the risk of osteoporosis include medications that are used to treat:

  • Seizures
  • Gastric reflux
  • Cancer
  • Transplant rejection

Lifestyle Factors

In some cases, osteoporosis is also brought by poor lifestyle choices. Although the risk of having the disease with poor lifestyle choices are lower compared to the risk as mentioned above, individuals can still acquire the infirmity through the following:

Sedentary lifestyle. Countless studies have long confirmed that lack of exercise increases the onset of many medical conditions, osteoporosis is one them. Individuals that use much time hunkering down have a greater risk compared to people with active lifestyles. Weight bearing exercises and cardio related routines like running, jumping, and aerobic dancing lessens the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

Excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol has a connection to various medical conditions like liver cirrhosis and heart diseases, but it can also increase the risk of osteoporosis. Individuals that consume more than two alcoholic beverages a day are more susceptible than people that drink less or do not drink alcohol at all.

When to call a Doctor

If you think you are suffering from a broken bone, or deformity after a fall and cannot move properly, call your doctor right away. Individuals might also want to go to physicians if they notice a sudden, severe when carrying heavy objects.

Health professionals that can evaluate symptoms of osteoporosis and its physical manifestations include:

  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Family medicine doctors
  • Internists
  • Rheumatologists
  • Endocrinologists
  • Gynecologists


It is unfortunate that people can have osteoporosis without any signs or symptoms. In most cases, the discovery of the infirmity can come from accidental bone fractures or when it is in its late stages. However, because it is a preventable and treatable disorder, an early diagnosis can make a big difference in most patients. Medical practitioners often rely on several tests to discover a weakened bone mass. Some examinations include:

  • Clinical Exams
  • Scrutinization of a person’s medical history
  • Physical examination (PE)
  • Laboratory tests
  • Bone mineral density test (BMD)

Clinical exams, medical history, physical examination and laboratory tests are standard procedures used by doctors to diagnose osteoporosis. However, the most important test to find out whether you have the infirmity hugely relies on the bone mineral density test. BMD analysis uses a special machine to measure a person’s bone density. This test allows doctors to see the amount of bone mineral an individual has in some regions of the bone.  The most common places to check BMD is through the hip, spine, forearm, wrist, finger or heel. The analysis is quick and painless, and it provides individuals an overall picture of their bone health.


Treating osteoporosis often relies on a doctor’s diagnosis since many factors affect its methods of treatment. In some cases, physicians weigh in several circumstances such as age, sex, the chance of a fracture and a patient’s previous injury history. The results of the BMD examination vary from different individuals, so it is important to discuss available therapy options.  Preliminary treatment methods include changing your diet plan to ensure sufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D. Advanced treatment methods often rely on the data gathered from the diagnosis, it includes:

  • Bone mineral density results
  • Risk factors for fracture
  • Postmenopausal women who have not had a bone fracture and those who have had a fracture

After the physician decides on the appropriate medication, a patient can start the treatment. There are several medicines available for individuals that have osteoporosis, and these are the most common ones:

  • Bisphosphonates
  • Strontium ranelate
  • Parathyroid hormone (teriparatide)
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)
  • Calcium and vitamin D supplements
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Bisphosphonates act by slowing down the rate at which the bone is broken down in an individual’s body. It maintains bone density and reduces the risks of fracture. There are different types of bisphosphonates, and they can be given as a tablet or injected in some cases. The most common types of bisphosphonates include alendronate, etidronate, ibandronate, ibandronate, risedronate, zolendronic acid.

Doctors would usually advise an individual to drink on an empty stomach with a full glass of water. Additionally, patients are advised to wait for two hours before eating and drinking. The effectiveness of bisphosphonates usually takes 6 to 12 months. Continuous treatments could take years, along with prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements.

As in most medications, side effects are a common occurrence. The main side effects affiliated with bisphosphonates include:

  • Esophagus irritation
  • Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing
  • Stomach pain

A rare side effect caused by taking bisphosphonates is osteonecrosis of the jaw. In most cases, patients with a history of dental problems are discouraged to take medicine.

Strontium ranelate changes the cells that break down the bone and osteoblasts (cells responsible for creating new bone tissue). It is an effective alternative to bisphosphonates. The medicine often comes in a powder form and is taken orally by mixing it with water.  The common side effects of strontium ranelate are nausea and diarrhea. In some cases, individuals have reported a rare and severe allergic reaction to the medicine. Doctors discourage patients that suffer from severe dermatitides when taking in the prescription drug.

Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) are drugs that act similar to the estrogen. The medicine helps maintain bone density and considerably reduces the chances of bone fractures, most especially to the spine. Raloxifene is the only type of SERM that is prescribed to treat osteoporosis. It can be taken as a tablet every day. Common side effects of Raloxifene are:

  • hot flashes
  • leg cramps
  • an increased chance of blood clots.

Parathyroid hormone (teriparatide) are naturally occurring hormones in the human body. It acts by regulating the amount of calcium in the bone. Treatments that involve teriparatide or most commonly called as parathyroid hormone treatments stimulate cells that create new osteoblasts.  Although other drugs can only slow the rate of bone degeneration, parathyroid treatments can increase bone density, but it is only compatible with a small number of people, especially in worse cases of osteoporosis where other treatments are not working.  Common side effects include nausea and vomiting. Since it is heavily regulated, patients are required to see a specialist scrutinize if this treatment is compatible with individual’s that have osteoporosis.

Medical experts usually prescribe calcium and vitamin D supplements with other treatment methods. Calcium is an essential mineral that’s responsible for healthy bones, and lack of it often leads to osteoporosis. Adults are recommended to take at least 700 mg of calcium every day from varied diets or through multivitamin and mineral capsules.

Vitamin D, on the other hand, helps the body absorb calcium. Doctors recommend ten micrograms of the vitamin every day. Since its only found in a small number of foods, taking a daily supplement containing the vitamin is quintessential in preventing osteoporosis. There are no significant side effects for Calcium and vitamin D intake.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a traditional treatment method that’s doctor recommended for women undergoing menopause. It helps control its symptoms and has been shown to help maintain bone density and the risk of fracture during treatment.  Although it is not specifically intended to treat osteoporosis, HRT is vital in slowing down its symptoms, but significant side effects include a higher risk for breast cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, stroke, and venous thromboembolism.

Alternative medicine is also becoming a popular way of treating (or preventing) osteoporosis. Asians have long used soy protein from soybeans to strengthen the bones, and several studies have shown that it lessens bone fracture in postmenopausal women compared to those that do not eat soybeans.

Ipriflavone, a byproduct of soy, is also effective in preventing bone loss, especially when coupled with calcium. Recent research has confirmed that it decreases pain correlated with compression fractures of the spine.

Medicine for pain from fracture

When a person has osteoporosis, there is a significant chance for compression fractures to occur. These are in fact avoidable, but some circumstances may lead an individual to sustain these types of injury. They can last for several months depending on the severity of the damage. To alleviate the pain, a doctor may prescribe the following medicine:

  • Nonprescription acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Nonprescription steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen)
  • Proton pump inhibitor or PFI
  • Prescribed narcotic pain relievers (codeine or morphine)
  • Calcitonin (Calcimar, Miacalcin)


Genetics play a significant role in ascertaining an individual’s chances of getting osteoporosis later in life. However, like many diseases, lifestyle factors like diet and physical activity also have a particular influence on the rate of bone loss in your later years. After your mid-20’s, bone deterioration starts, but individuals that have thicker bone mass in their youth are less likely to experience bone fractures in the future.

Low calcium intake causes low bone mass, and low BMD increases the risk of osteoporosis. Appropriate calcium intake reduces the rate of bone deterioration, and eating foods that are rich in this mineral can lessen its symptoms. Foods that are rich in calcium include:

  • almonds
  • cheese
  • dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli
  • milk
  • yoghurt
  • sardines and salmon

As in most situations, prevention is better than cure, investing in bone health at a young age drastically lessens the chances of osteoporosis. During the period of bone development, children and adolescents should:

  • Have a nutritious diet with adequate calcium intake
  • Avoid protein malnutrition and under-nutrition
  • Maintain enough supply of vitamin D
  • Regularly participate in physical activities
  • Avoid smoking and inhalation of second-hand smoke

Upon reaching adulthood, individuals should still be wary of their lifestyle choices, having a poor diet can increase the chances of osteoporosis as well as other diseases. It is also important to avoid too much alcohol intake. To maintain healthy bones, adults should:

  • Ensure a nutritious diet and sufficient calcium intake
  • Avoid under-nutrition, particularly the effects of drastic weight-loss Avoid fad diets that can often lead to eating
  • disorders
  • Keep an adequate supply of vitamin D
  • Participate in regular weight-bearing activities or exercises
  • Avoid smoking and second-hand smoking
  • Avoid heavy drinking

Exercise can also help minimize the loss of bone mass. Various studies have proven that certain types of exercises can strengthen the bones and help keep a healthy bone density or BMD. Aside from running, a variety of activities like weight-bearing exercises and Strength resistance training drastically decreases the risk of osteoporosis.  Swimming and cycling, however, is an exception. Although both workouts contribute to improving cardiovascular fitness and building muscle strength, they are not as efficient at preventing osteoporosis.

Weight-bearing exercises are workouts that individuals perform while they are on their feet, with gravity exerting a force against them. High-impact weight-bearing exercises like aerobics have bigger benefits compared to low-impact activities like walking. Regular weight-bearing exercises include:

  • Aerobics
  • Climbing stairs
  • Dancing
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Tennis and other racket sports
  • Tai Chi and Yoga exercises

Aerobics is a kind of physical activity that blends in regular aerobic exercise with stretching and strength training routines. Its primary goal is to improve an individual’s overall fitness, but it also helps develop a person’s flexibility, muscular strength, and cardio-vascular health. This type of exercise is more attractive to women than men, but it is also becoming a go-to routine for athletes and runners alike. Aside from preventing bone loss, aerobics also helps in prevent several illnesses like heart disease and high blood pressure.

Formal exercises have varying levels of intensity and complexity, but most classes have five parts. It starts with warm-ups which can last 5-10 minutes, followed by cardiovascular conditioning which can last 25–30 minutes, muscular strength and conditioning 10–15 minutes, cool-down 5–8 minutes and lastly, stretching and flexibility which can take 5–8 minutes.

Climbing the stairs is another form of exercise that can help prevent osteoporosis. Most athletes incorporate this training into their routines, especially for individual’s that are trying to improve their endurance and muscle strength. Recent studies have found that doing this activity can have a powerful and positive impact on your bone health over time.

Scientific data has discovered that climbing eight flights of stairs a day lowers the average mortality rate by 33 percent. People who climb a flight of stairs for at least seven minutes a day also have a lower risk of heart attack. Depending on the intensity, vigorous routines like running up and down the stairs strengthens the bones and consumes more calories per minute than jogging.

Dancing is also a good way of strengthening bones. Aside from being a recreational activity, this exercise has a broad range of benefits that can improve a person’s overall health and well-being. Almost anybody can dance, and researchers have discovered that it enhances the condition of the heart and lungs as well as increase a person’s muscular strength, endurance, and motor fitness. Other benefits include:

  • Improved aerobic fitness
  • Developed muscle tone and strength
  • Weight control
  • Stronger bones and decreased risk of osteoporosis
  • Better coordination, agility, and flexibility
  • Improved balance and spatial awareness
  • Improved mental functioning
  • Enhances general and psychological wellbeing

Walking is one of the simplest activities in the list, but this low-impact routine also has many of benefits. Directed at older patients or those who do not meet fitness standards of high-intensity exercises, walking reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is also a good cardio workout activity for older people because it is relatively easy to do. Walking reduces the levels of bad cholesterol and also strengthens the bones. Aside from the listed benefits, individuals can also reap in these health perks:

  • Reduces disease risk
  • Walking helps you lose and maintain healthy weight
  • Prevents dementia (especially for older people)
  • Helps build and tone up muscles
  • Boosts Vitamin D absorption
  • Walking makes you happy

Jogging is also a favorite exercise for health aficionados and athletes alike. Like walking, this routine builds cardiovascular strength and strengthens the bones. The only difference is it has higher intensity compared to walking exercises. Jogging can range from a slow paced trot to a high-intensity run and applies to a wide variety of individuals depending on their current fitness level. Health benefits of jogging include:

  • Stronger bone and muscle tissue
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Boosted vitamin D absorption
  • Reduced risk for various diseases
  • Maintained weight

Yoga and Tai Chi are also helpful exercises that help reinforce the bones through various stretching motions and different moving postures. Both practices are gaining popularity in Western countries because it appeals to young and old people. Yoga and Tai Chi routines improve the body’s blood flow and help in increasing an individual’s range of motion and flexibility. Some of their health benefits include:

  • Improved immune system
  • Enhanced cardiovascular fitness
  • Reduced disease risk
  • Heightened Mental Awareness
  • Improved balance (helps avoid fractures caused by accidental slipping)

Strength (resistance) training, on the other hand, involves lifting weights with your arms or legs. Weight lifting exercises help improve bone health by putting a strain on the bones, which makes them tough. Increase the resistance depending on an individual’s level of fitness continues to improve bone strength. Some studies have shown that progressing to heavier weights is most effective in preventing the loss of bone mass. Weight resistance training include:

  • Weightlifting
  • Push-ups
  • Squats

Doctors always recommend check-ups to monitor an individual’s level of fitness. Unfit people or those who suffer from medical problems should ask permission from an attending physician or a trained physical therapist to undergo strenuous exercises. Specialists may advise patients to start on low-impact exercises like walking. If you are uncertain, seek professional medical advice.

Tips to Prevent Accidental Falls

Falling or accidentally slipping for people with osteoporosis is no joke. Aside from potentially fracturing a bone, it can also aggravate a pre-existing bone injury. To prevent these accidents from happening, making your home safe might be the number one solution. Here are some safety tips to make sure your home is 100 percent fall free:

1. Free your walkways and stairs from shoes, books and anything that can block the way. A toy or a small decorative piece like vases and baskets are samples of things that you can trip over.

2. Use an adhesive tape to keep your rugs down and prevent them from slipping. Small throw rugs can easily cause you to fall.

3. Place non-slip mats or bath tapes in the bottom of your bathtub or on the floor of your shower. Wet tiles are very slippery and are always dangerous.

4. Make sure your house is well-lit. Switch the lights on when you plan to be in a room or walkway; there might be toys or shoes laying around and cause you to fall.

5. Keep items you often use (like cooking supplies) in easy-to-reach places. Using a stool to reach these items can inadvertently cause falls.

6. In winter, sprinkle salt or kitty litter on slippery or icy sidewalks. It will give you more traction against slipping.

False Positives

Today, the best test for determining osteoporosis is done using a DXA scan, a radiological analysis that uses the least radiation in evaluating an individual’s bone density or BMD. Although it can give the quantity of the bone, it does not, however, provide a person’s real bone quality. The risk for fracture derives from both the bone’s quality and quantity. Doctors often evaluate the results with caution because many factors affect the accuracy of the tests.  The factors include:

  • artifacts
  • anatomy
  • machinery
  • location
  • varying technicians

Artifacts are things that appear in the scanner’s field of vision. In some cases, the tests can inaccurately measure bone density because of the presence of a recently ingested calcium pill. The presence of back arthritis or previous osteoporosis treatments like vertebroplasty can also reduce the accuracy of the analysis.

Anatomy is essential in doing the bone density tests. Examiners should scan on the same areas where the previous tests last checked. Small changes of position can substantially modify the results. Different machines also yield different results due to significant modifications in the technology.

It is necessary to do the test with a specialist or someone that has experience in reading bone density. The reader should be able to evaluate and detect abnormalities that can lead to false positive readings. Direct observation of the scan is necessary to avoid conclusions that have many errors.

Tips for Runners with Osteoporosis

While the symptoms of osteoporosis start when you feel pain and experience a sudden fracture that can be caused by minimal trauma, there are several tips for runners to prevent it from causing more pain later in life. If a doctor has diagnosed a runner with bone loss, the chances of running again might be slim, but by following these tips, a runner may avoid injuries like broken bones and fractures.  These tips will enable individuals to continue with their workout routine despite having osteoporosis. However, before anything else, consulting a doctor to examine a person’s fitness level is highly advised.

1. Stay loaded up on energy.   Eating enough calories before a regular run can help you stay fueled up. The more energy a person has before a workout can make it easier for the body to regenerate and heal, including bones. Medical experts also advise individual’s to take time for recovery before going into another run.

2. Build muscle mass.  It is one of the essential things an athlete must have to protect bones from fractures and breakages. Several sporting activities are more brutal compared to running, but building muscle through strength training workouts decrease chances of bone density loss. Studies have also shown that women who have more muscle mass are less likely to have osteoporosis compared to women who have less muscle.

3. Avoid overtraining, and always have time to recover afterward.  Researchers have linked overtraining with lower levels of estrogen in women. It is essential to have a chance to heal, especially when you just had an intense running routine. Having lower levels of this hormone leads to an additional bone loss in women. Men who often over train are more prone to suffer from fractures and various injuries. It may have well been true when Marty Liquori stated that “Overtraining is the biggest problem acquired by runners who lack the experience or discipline to cope with their enthusiasm.” Learn to rest period.

4. Don’t forget to take your calcium and Vitamin D.  It is quite imperative that athletes must take calcium to build healthy bones. The inadequacy of this mineral is one of the leading causes of osteoporosis. Eating green leafy vegetables that are rich in calcium such as spinach is essential to maintain bone strength, runners can also opt to take calcium tablets for a quick fix.   Vitamin D is also important for athletes as it helps in the absorption of calcium. Soaking in the sun is an excellent way to get vitamin D but do not overdo it. Too much sun exposure can also harm skin tissues or much worse, cause melanoma in the long run.

5. Do attempt to do routines when you are injured, immediately seek professional medical advice.  “No pain, no gain,” runners often run with injuries, aggravating them over the long term. If you have an injury, please stop and consult a doctor to prevent more damage from occurring. Machismo often drives men to tolerate pain and continue to have their routines without any medical intervention. Be warned, running through an injury aggravates it more and may result in severe long-term damage to your bone and other vital parts of the body.

7. Don’t give up running 

Running is safe for people with osteoporosis if done in the right way. It is even a proven exercise that strengthens the bones. It is confirmed safe unless a doctor has advised you not to run. Start with low-impact exercising like walking to warm up and slowly increase the intensity depending on a person’s fitness level.

Dietary tips for runners

There have been several studies suggesting that getting enough calcium and vitamin D decreases the risk of osteoporosis. However, there are also other dietary factors that increase the risk of the infirmity. According to medical experts, there are several foods that runners must avoid to preserve bone mass. These include:

  • Foods that are rich in salt
  • Carbonated soft drinks
  • Caffeine-rich beverages
  • Some soy-based food (not all though)

Salt Is Bad for the Bone

Several researchers have discovered that salt can post a significant threat to the bone’s integrity, especially to postmenopausal women have high-salt diets. Studies have confirmed that the typical American diet is one of the reasons why most Americans suffer from calcium deficiency. Moreover, further comparisons reveal that most of these individuals take in twice the recommended sodium intake, a key factor that links salt-rich diets to osteoporosis.

According to data gathered from various studies, Americans take in as much as 4,000 milligrams a day. The 2005 dietary guidelines in the U.S. advise its citizens to take in 2,300 milligrams per day. Anything that goes beyond the recommended intake is considered detrimental to an individual’s bone health. More data has shown that taking in 2,300mg of sodium equals to about 40mg of calcium lost in urine. However, data also show that getting the suggested daily amounts calcium and vitamin D can help offset the bone loss from salt.

Luckily, medical experts have concocted a nutritional diet plan that can help individuals recover from weak bones. Adults up to age 50 are required to take in 1,000mg of calcium every day, a rough equivalent to three glasses of milk. Older people, especially those who are beyond their fifties must have at least 1,200mg, about half a glass of milk a day.

As for vitamin D, these are the recommended values:

  • Young adults up to age 50 require 200 IU (International Units) of vitamin D on a daily basis
  • Older people that are between 51 to 70 are recommended to take in 400 IU
  • Seniors that are beyond 70 need 600 IU of vitamin D per day

An excellent source of vitamin D may come from natural sunlight but may also come from food such as:

  • Milk
  • Egg Yolks
  • Saltwater fish

Sadly, salty foods are stubborn and the hardest to curb. Nearly all processed food has salt, including whole grain bread, cereals, and fast foods. The best thing to do is to begin removing additional salts in an individual’s diet. Removing the salt shaker from the table and avoiding salt from cooked meals provides the biggest change.

Aside from osteoporosis, avoiding these salty foods can also give individuals better overall health. Here are some that you should avoid:

  • Processed meats like deli turkey, spam, and hot dogs
  • Fast food such as pizza, burgers, tacos, and fries
  • Processed foods like regular and less-calorie frozen meals
  • Regular canned soups and vegetables
  • Baked products like bread and breakfast cereals

In cases of dining out, checking sodium content via your favorite restaurants can most often lead you to better food choices. Typical meals exceed 800mg of sodium. Instead, you may look for other items in the menu or ask the chef to lessen salt seasonings. You can also opt for steamed veggies, or grilled fish or chicken.  If you think you cannot lower your salt intake, eat plenty of bananas, tomatoes, and orange juice. These choices are rich in potassium, a vital mineral that helps decrease the loss of calcium.

Carbonated drinks also increase the risk of osteoporosis

What most people do not know is that most soft drinks and carbonated beverages contain phosphoric acid, a mineral acid that increases calcium excretion in urine over time. Moreover, most of these drinks lack calcium, a dangerous combination especially for women that are at risk for osteoporosis. According to several studies, excess levels of phosphorus in our bodies can promote calcium loss, especially when calcium intake is below the recommended levels.

Drinking soda occasionally is fine, but for people (mainly women) that consume more than two cans a day higher chances of having osteoporosis later in life. It can also aggravate the infirmity by the mere fact that most people who drink too many carbonated beverages end up drinking less calcium laden refreshments like milk, yogurt, and calcium-enriched orange juice.  To prevent osteoporosis, medical experts recommend to drink these instead:

  • Orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D
  • A blend of fortified orange juice and club soda that’s free of phosphoric acid (to satisfy soda craving)
  • Fruit smoothies that combine 8 ounces of fat-free yogurt and the combination of a medium banana or frozen berries
  • Fat-free plain milk
The Cost of Caffeine for Women

Research has shown that too much cola and coffee intake in women do affect their bone density and could later lead to osteoporosis. Surprisingly, men are not affected at all by these beverages but, avoiding too much intake of caffeine can have lots of benefits.

Studies have shown that caffeine leaches calcium from the bones, sapping away their integrity every time you sip a morning coffee. 100mg of caffeine can cause 6mg of calcium. It is not an alarming rate, but when its accumulated through excess drinking, it can certainly get worse. The good news is women can still sip their favorite cup of coffee but must limit their intake to 300mg a day.

Further research has also shown that tea (although it has caffeine) does not contribute to bone loss, but rather help in strengthening bone integrity for older women. Medical experts believe that plant compounds in the tea help protect the bone.

Is Soy Safe for people that have weak bones?

Although soy products such as tofu and tempeh have abundant bone-building protein, its compounds may also hamper calcium absorption. Researchers have discovered that oxalates in soy can bind up calcium and make it unavailable to the body. People that eat much soy but don’t eat much calcium can be risking their bones for future fractures. However, some types of soy are beneficial to your bones, those with genistein and daidzein isoflavones are proven to protect bone strength.

Soy based products with calcium, however, may give consumers a false sense of security. Several researchers have compared calcium solubility of some calcium-fortified beverages and have found out that much of the important bone-strengthening mineral sank to the bottom of the container despite vigorous shaking.  Still, fortified soy products including tofu provide a healthy dose of bone-building nutrients and can foster better bone health. With proper diet and the addition of these soy-based products, and individuals may be able to prevent brittle bones, especially when you take at least 1,000mg of calcium every day.

Dietary Myth: Is Protein Bad for people with osteoporosis?

There have been numerous publications that suggest that protein reduces bone strength in individuals, but according to medical experts, this is apparently not true. In fact, protein is an essential nutrient that helps build healthy bones and muscles.

Bones are about 50 percent protein, in short taking in protein from meat can contribute to repair bone damage through dietary amino acids, the building blocks of the human body’s proteins. Aside from calcium and vitamin D, protein also creates a protective net around bones, so it is essential for athletes to get plenty of protein in their diets.

In America, older women are at risk for osteoporosis because they fail to get enough protein in their diets. Studies have shown that the suggested daily protein intake is 0.8 grams protein every 2.2 pounds for adults over the age of 19. To get your daily dose of protein, check out some of these food choices:

  • light tuna
  • cooked chicken, turkey, or pork tenderloin
  • Grilled salmon
  • Fat-free plain yogurt
  • Fat-free milk
  • Eggs

Further Reading: Alcoholism, Cancer-Related Bone Diseases

Alcoholism posts many health hazards for individuals, including risks of osteoporosis in later years. Several studies show that chronic alcohol abuse during adolescence and your adult years dramatically increases the loss of bone mass, a key factor for osteoporosis. To prevent this from happening, doctors have advised individuals to avoid binge drinking alcohol and aim to curb the consumption of different carbonated beverages.

So How Does Alcohol Harm Our Bones?

According to scientists, consuming two to three ounces of alcohol every day limits our body’s ability to absorb calcium. It interferes with the functions of the pancreas, especially the absorption of calcium and vitamin D. It also affects the liver, a vital organ that activates vitamin D in our body.  Acording to scientists, consuming two to three ounces of alcohol every day limits our body’s ability to absorb calcium. It interferes with the functions of the pancreas, especially the absorption of calcium and vitamin D. It also affects the liver, a vital organ that activates vitamin D in our body. Hormones that are crucial to bone health also go awry, estrogen declines and can cause irregular periods for women. During menopausal years, the absence of estrogen can lead to osteoporosis.

Heavy alcohol consumption can also trigger high levels of cortisol, and the parathyroid hormone, two potentially bone-damaging hormones that can decrease bone regeneration and increase bone breakdown. Parathyroid hormone alone can leach the bones’ calcium deposits, weakening it in the long run. Excess alcohol in our system can also kill osteoblasts, bone-making cells that are vital for recovery and healing.

Drinking Increases Risks for Fractures

Heavy drinkers are also prone to fractures due to brittle bones. People that suffer from alcoholism are more likely to suffer from hip and spine fractures than people that consume less alcohol or men and women that don’t drink at all. Studies have also discovered that individuals that drink too much suffer from slow bone recovery. Since alcoholism urges people to smoke, there are higher chances of long-term bone damage. Medical experts advise individuals to quit both vices as early as possible.

Bone Facts

Despite its static appearance, bones, in reality, are very dynamic and active. In fact, the processes that consistently take place in our bones are critical in maintaining overall bone health. Disruption to bone activity compromises its ability to recover, and when it is left unchecked or ruined with unhealthy lifestyle choices, chances of bone related diseases are high.

Normally, this process has two primary functions. First, it helps maintain blood calcium levels, and second, it reshapes the skeleton in response to external stressors such as gravity and weight bearing activities. Calcium is vital for many processes in the body, and the list is long. It is a key cog for the contraction of muscles, the function of nerves, coagulation of the blood, division of the cells and a lot more. Interestingly, only one percent of the calcium in the body is available for these functions; the other 99 percent goes directly to the bones. If blood calcium levels drop, the bones release calcium through remodeling to maintain the processes.

The bone reconstruction that happens inside our body is also an important function that helps the bone retain its integrity. Osteoclasts and osteoblasts are two hormones that are responsible in remodeling the bone. The former breaks down cells that break the bone while the latter is responsible for producing organic fibers that store calcium salts.

What are the Diseases that Affect the Bones?

Aside from osteoporosis, other notable conditions can also influence the bone like rickets and cancer. The cause of these infirmities may come from different circumstances, but many experts view the imbalance between bone formation and bone reabsorption as the leading factor for these disorders. Rickets is a children’s condition that affects the bone mineralization, while cancer (both types) compromises bone health by causing increased build-up or excessive breakdown. Furthermore, cancer treatments like hormonal therapies for breast and prostate cancers can cause increased bone degeneration.

Cancer-Related Bone Complications

Aside from bone cancer itself, other complications may start to manifest as well. Some of the common developments include:

  • Bone pain
    Bone loss

Metastatic cancer can cause agonizing pain, and the discovery of bone metastases come from pain originating near the metastases. At first, it is tough to differentiate pain from common low back pain or arthritis, but the most notable difference can come from the fact that the pain is more persistent, even at night.

Bone loss occurs where there is a decrease of calcification or reduction in our body’s bone density. It results in weak bones that can increase the risk of fracture. Although it can stem from the normal aging process, it can also occur as a complication of cancer or cancer treatments. Hormonal therapies for breast and prostate cancer is also known to cause bone loss.

Cancer that commonly spread to the bones and causes bone loss include:

  • Multiple myeloma
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

Hypercalcemia is a disorder that causes high levels of calcium in the bloodstream. Cancer most commonly triggers the disease, and it results from the disintegration of bone due to metastasis. In most cases, hypercalcemia can be a life-threatening condition.


Osteoporosis is a common issue among adults aged 60 and above. It is more prevalent in women than to men because of many physiological factors. Preventing osteoporosis can come directly from an individual’s lifestyle choices. Choosing to eat right and taking calcium and vitamin D supplements can drastically decrease the risk of the infirmity later in life. Exercise also has a significant factor in curbing its many manifestations. Since the disease involves brittle bones, participating in weight-bearing activities like lifting weights provide additional bone mass in the later years. Drinking too much alcohol and smoking can also increase its risk, by avoiding both vices, it can drastically improve bone health as well as its speedy recovery. Quitting both can also prevent many diseases.

All in all, having daily check-ups can also help individual’s prepare for the worse, in the case of fractures, it is always advisable to get medical treatment. For runners and athletes, resting and the avoidance of overtraining can also save your bones from further fractures. It certainly isn’t too late for people with osteoporosis to run. With the right knowledge and discipline, nothing can hold an avid runner from doing his or her routine, not even osteoporosis!


The references in this article are listed below and have been written by medical professionals for established medical websites and publications. Moreover, this article aims to educate individuals on the cause of osteoporosis and some of its related symptoms. Consequently, information within the article should not be used in place of medical advice. For personalized information on osteoporosis and its associated manifestations, Runner Click advises its readers to talk to their family doctor or preferred medical expert.


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