Healthy Living

My Strange New Habits – It’s All About My Bones

For my last annual check-up, I had a bone density scan and got a nasty surprise.

Like far too many women my age, I’ve got osteoporosis.

“But I walk everywhere!“ I protested to my doctor. I walk for at least an hour a day. And I work at a public library, so I’m not only on my feet for long stretches of time but I’m always carrying books around. “Isn‘t checking in hefty tomes like ‘The Goldfinch’ and ‘The Luminaries’ just like lifting weights?”

Apparently not.

My doctor told me that although all that walking is good for my overall health and keeps me lean, I am — ironically — too lean for it to constitute the kind of weight-bearing exercise that would strengthen my skeleton. (Here’s the bright side for those of you who are struggling to lose that last 10 pounds. Don’t. Carrying that extra weight around is good for your bones.)

As it turns out, I’ve also got several bad habits that, over the years, have leached the calcium out of my bones — drinking lots of coffee and over-salting my food.

My doc has given me a year to do what I can to strengthen my bones. Or else? I’ll have to go on that drug Sally Field is always pushing on TV.

I’ve researched what I can do to improve my bone density.

The answer?


One study concluded that when postmenopausal women ate 12 prunes a day, it improved their bone density.

Another thing I can do?


Women who jumped 20 times a day, according to a different study, also improved their bone density.

From now on, just think of me as the prune-eating, leaping librarian.

(Prunes being what they are, I’m lucky that my digestive system is very sturdy, or I’d be the leaping farting librarian.)

I now keep a supply of prunes in the staff fridge. (The upside? Unlike my former go-to snack, vanilla jelly beans, my new snack supply lasts a lot longer, since none of my co-workers ever ask if they can have one. The downside? They’re prunes.)

Now, when you approach the circulation desk at the library where I work, I’ll leap into the air before asking “How can I help you?”

How have our patrons responded to all this jumping around? So far, they’ve been too polite and well-mannered to mention it. (Although one dude grinned and asked if I was working on my David Lee Roth imitation.)

I’ve also stopped over-salting my food. And I’ve cut down (a little) on my coffee drinking. It’s far too early to tell if any of this is doing me any good. Check back in a year. In the meantime? If you haven’t gotten a bone density scan, I encourage you to do so.

The sooner you get on it, the better for your bones.

I do hope that your bones, unlike mine, are fabulous. But, the next time you come into my library, if I leap into the air and ask “How can I help you?” and you leap into the air before asking if I can put “Strong Women, Strong Bones” on hold for you, I’ll leap into the air again and say “Certainly.“

Then I’ll offer you a prune.

Roz Warren

Photo Credit: Gema https://www.flickr.com/photos/regenboog/

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  • Dianne Morris

    I have the dreaded osteopenia too. I’m forever grateful that Barbara inspired me to do a plank when we were at a Women at Woodstock retreat. I thought it looked impossible but I’ve managed and now it’s an important part of my routine.

  • Barbara Hannah Grufferman

    Hi Roz,
    When I turned 50 I was told that I had osteopenia, meaning I was on that train heading towards osteoporosis, but there were steps I could take to derail the train before it got to the station. And that’s exactly what’s I’ve been doing: eating more calcium-rich foods, vitamin D supplements (we need vitamin D to absorb the calcium), push-ups, jumping, running, and the plank. All of these simple lifestyle changes not only allowed me to become more lean and stronger, but that train hasn’t moved very much since. I’ve also become the Bone Health Ambassador for the National Osteoporosis Foundation and a trustee. I encourage everyone–including you, Roz!–to check in at NOF.org regularly for the most up to date information on keeping bones healthy at every age. PS May is National Osteoporosis Month! The best time to celebrate our bones.

  • Julia

    I have had a rebounder for years but haven’t used it in a long time. Time to get it out and get some prunes!

  • Sue Witte

    I have a rebounder (mini trampoline) stashed under my bed which I pull out and jump on now and them. After reading your piece, I’ll be pulling it out more often! I understand that it’s also very good for the lymphatic system.

    Thanks for another great blog piece!

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