Nineteen-year-old Bobby Clay was on track to be an outstanding Olympic runner for the U.K. before she was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis (brittle bone disease), brought on by over-exercising and undereating.
But while the disease is a risk for serious athletes who put a premium on light weight and super training, low bone density is two to three times more prevalent in non-athletic premenopausal women than in elite female athletes, according to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
That conforms to recent findings released by the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative.
And it seems the prevalence of osteoporosis is increasing. Today, 16.5% of women and 5.1% of men over age 50 have the condition.
From 2012 to 2014, the condition led to 19.5 million hospitalizations, 46.7 million emergency room visits, and a bill of around $73.6 billion.
What can you do to protect yourself from life-altering fractures?
• Eat calcium-rich and vitamin K-rich veggies like spinach, bok choy, and turnips, as well as mustard and collard greens, along with low- or nonfat dairy.
• Walk a lot.
• Get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly; do 40 jumps a day; strength-train two days a week. That's just the right amount of activity.
• Don't drink excessively or smoke.
• Ask your doctor about getting a DXA bone scan if you are a woman 65 or older, a man 70 or older, or if you have risk factors such as family history of osteoporosis or hyperthyroid disease.