Older women (mostly in the post-menopausal range) who either lose OR gain weight are at an increased risk for a break or a fracture—and where depends on how and WHY you lose the weight!
Losing weight is an important step for your health no matter the age, and in almost all cases outweighs the risk of a break. If you’re having trouble with menopause, losing weight may even help, since all that pesky extra fat also messes with hormones.
Losing Weight Unexpectedly
Why are women who lose weight at risk of a fracture? Padding, most likely. Women who lose weight incidentally, rather than by trying, are more likely to fall and injure their hip. Perhaps it’s an unexpected change in balance, but it’s worth noting that unexpected weight loss in old age is likely tied to another health problem—like losing weight because of the flu or another illness that impacts appetite. Some of those health problems can even cause dizziness, increasing the risk of a fall. (Alternately, medications for illness can cause the exact same thing! Random weight loss, lack of appetite, and/or dizziness!)
It’s a good reminder that it’s important to support your immune system, especially as you age, since age naturally weakens it! And don’t be afraid to take some steps to decrease the risk of falls around the house. Non-slip bath mats, handrails that go along stairs all the way to the bottom, and other little changes can make a house subtly safer.
Losing Weight On Purpose
Supporting your health by losing weight can improve quality of life at any age—and here’s another benefit: you’re less likely to break or fracture a hip (a serious place to get an injury), although you’re more likely to injure a leg (perhaps from exercising?).
I read a quote from an extreme sports enthusiast recently that basically said you’re more likely to die from sitting on the couch never exercising that taking a risk—point taken. But you don’t have to climb a mountain with your bare hands or take up grandma roller derby to get healthy, there are lots of ways to exercise that support good health in a safe way that minimizes the risk of a break! And you’ll be strengthening your bones for the future!
Most people gain weight as they age—and they’re at risk for breaks and fractures, too! But they’re most likely to have a limb—an arm or a leg—get injured. Maybe it’s a balance issue, but hips are more padded, so arms and legs take the brunt? I don’t know. But if you find yourself gaining weight, take some steps to prevent a fall!
General Bone Support
Your bones benefit from exercise just like your muscles do—although you have to pick an exercise that uses gravity, like walking, rather than swimming. You can also support your bones with a healthy diet, that has plenty of calcium (and a calcium supplement for support is a good idea, too!).
Surprised that weight fluctuations increase the risk of falls? Let us know your thoughts!