Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Nisan 5766 - April 4, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Watch Those Bones
by Tzipie Wolner

Great Aunt Bluma came to visit last year. She came from the States and stayed at our place. She was fun to entertain, yet I was in a constant state of anxiety. Maybe she would fall off her bed. Maybe she would trip coming up the three flights of steps. Maybe she would slip in the shower. Although I was sad to see her leave, I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked Hashem that she didn't fall, trip or slip.

We treat the elderly as though they are fragile. We can't yank them or let them be on their own too long for fear that they will hurt themselves. Their bones are weak; therefore we need to be more careful around them. It's quite common for a senior citizen to break a bone.

Yet although we care and help them, most of us forget that one day we might be in that very same position. We don't like to think about it, so we pretend that day is far, far away. I certainly hope that your bones will always be strong and capable. And one way to realize that hope is by taking care of your bones now.

Osteoporosis is a disease that affects ten million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. On top of that, eighteen million more have low bone mass, which mean that they are at increased risk of developing this disease.

Just like the tissue in our skin, hair and nails constantly renews itself, so, too, the bones in our body renew and repair themselves as well. As we age, the bone keeps breaking down, however it no longer rebuilds itself as quickly. This results is a decline in bone density. In simple terms it means that the bones become weaker and more brittle and therefore they are prone to breaks and cracks.

It's a lot easier to prevent osteoporosis than to cure it later on. How can we prevent it?

Calcium is the main mineral in our bones. Like our mothers all insisted, "Drink that milk!," it seems that they were right all along. Milk is full of calcium, which is great in creating strong bones. And the earlier you begin to pump calcium into your bones, the better chance you have of fending off this disease.

Milk is the ideal food to consume to ensure an adequate supply of calcium to your bones. But for those who cannot or will not go anywhere near milk, there is another way.

Exercise. Not enough can be said about the benefits of exercise. Weightlifting is especially beneficial in developing stronger bones. I don't mean these sixty pounds of iron. A set of small weights is fine enough. Join a toning class. Exercise in the privacy of your home, remember though, to keep your posture correct. Take a walk around your neighborhood, either with a set of weights in your hands or without. The more you use your bones, the less likely you are to lose them.

Again, the earlier you begin to worry about your bones and begin an exercise program, the better it is, preferably with weights, but any exercise helps.

Important: It is always necessary to check with your physician before you begin any exercise program. Good luck and have fun!


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