Loving Life Is Key to Bone Health for Older Women

Posted by Hilary Young on March 10, 2015

Loving Life Is Key to Bone Health for Older Women

Kris Carr, the New York Times best-selling author and wellness expert, once said: “If you don't think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system.”

And science has just proven her right.

According to a new study published in Psychosomatic Medicine: The Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, women who are more satisfied with their lives as they enter menopause are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis than their more unhappy peers.

The study, from a team of researchers at the University of Eastern Finland analyzed the data from over 2000 women who had participated in the Kuopio Osteoporosis Risk Factor and Prevention (OSTPRE) Study, which has been ongoing since 1989.  Participants for this study provided bone density measurements in 1999 and then again for a follow-up in 2009.  They were also asked four questions about their interests and ease of living, their happiness and their feelings of loneliness.

Surprisingly, the researchers found that while overall bone density dipped by 4 percent over the course of the ten years for the entire group, they also found that there was as much as a 52 percent difference in bone density between those who reported life satisfaction and those who did not.  In fact, the more unsatisfied participants in the group saw their bone density weaken by as much as 85 percent in comparison with their happier counterparts.

Osteoporosis and Bone Density

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which you lose bone density, making them brittle and weak and more prone to breaks or fractures.  Women who have gone through menopause are usually the most at risk for developing osteoporosis, often due to the lack of estrogen in your body afterwards.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are roughly 54 million Americans currently living with osteoporosis and low bone mass, leading to “approximately one in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older” breaking a bone because of it.  

And these breaks are often severe, typically occurring as a broken hip, wrist or spine.  

The perils of osteoporosis, however, can be avoided with the right amounts of diet, exercise, or medications.  Be sure to talk to your doctor should you think you might be suffering from osteoporosis.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Of course, aside from lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, or from starting prescription medication for osteoporosis, you could also try a healthy dose of happiness!  As the researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have found, happiness can actually play a huge role in keeping your bones healthy as you age.  How can you live happier?

  • Stress Less.  As Kris Carr pointed out, stress and anxiety can have a major negative impact on your immune system, affecting your physical health.  Learn to laugh about things that don’t turn out the way you planned, let things you can’t change go, and focus on being around people who lift your spirits.

  • Try Yoga, Tai Chi, or Meditation.  Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation practices have been shown to help quiet the mind and aid in stress reduction.  Yoga and Tai Chi also have the added benefit of being able to improve your balance as you age, which will help keep you on your feet and reduce your risk of broken bones.

  • Cross Things Off Your Bucket List.  Have you always wanted to learn how to knit but never got around to it?  Or maybe you want to bake more?  Make a list of activities you’d love to try, places you’d like to travel to, or adventures to experience and start crossing things off your list.  It will be a nice way to break up your typical routine and bring some spontaneity back into your life.


TAGS: happiness and bone health