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Bone Health and Diabetes

One of the many reasons to eat well and be physically active is to preserve bone health.  This is particularly important for those with diabetes—whether you are a man or a woman, have type 1 diabetes or type 2.

People with type 1 diabetes tend to have low bone density, which increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Although those with type 2 diabetes are often overweight, which is associated with higher bone density, they too are prone to fractures. Plus, everyone loses bone density and muscle mass with age.

“With diabetes, particularly if you have complications such as neuropathy (nerve damage) or vision problems, there could also be balance issues,” says Jacqueline Shahar, M.Ed., RCEP, CDE, a certified diabetes educator and manager of exercise physiology in the Joslin Clinic.

Tune-up Muscles and Bones

A healthy diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D and regular weight-bearing exercise are key to slowing bone loss, improving balance, and preventing falls and injuries.

“You need to strengthen bones and muscles to avoid falling injuries, which improves your daily functioning and quality of life,” Shahar says.

Simple Solutions

The easiest weight-bearing exercise is walking. Lifting weights, jogging, biking and dancing are other examples.

But the solution could be as simple as doing a chair squat, standing heel raises and the step-up.  Just getting up from a chair and sitting back down or stepping up on a stair or flight of stairs builds up bones, strengthens the muscles around the bones, and improves balance, Shahar says.

But don’t wait until age 50 or 60, she says. “An active lifestyle is a lifelong part of preserving bone health and managing diabetes."

To make an appointment with Jacqueline Shahar, call 617-732-2400.

Page last updated: October 25, 2014