I’d much pre­fer to be on my own than with the wrong per­son

Af­ter a shock weak bone di­ag­no­sis, Anthea Turner talks to GABRIELLE FA­GAN about self-care, ex­er­cise and re­con­nect­ing with her­self af­ter her di­vorce

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GLAM­OROUS and ever youth­ful TV pre­sen­ter Anthea Turner, 58, has al­ways prided her­self on be­ing con­sci­en­tious about her health and fit­ness – so she was shocked to dis­cover that she’d de­vel­oped os­teope­nia, a form of de­creased bone den­sity.

A pre­cur­sor to full-blown os­teo­poro­sis, os­teope­nia also leads to weak­en­ing of the bones and an in­creased risk of breaks and frac­tures. Ex­perts be­lieve the con­di­tion’s often not de­tected un­til the dam­age is so se­vere that some­body suf­fers a break as a re­sult – around 500,000 peo­ple re­ceive treat­ment for fragility frac­tures each year in the UK.

Anthea, who rose to fame pre­sent­ing Top Of The Pops in the Eight­ies and hosted Blue Pe­ter for two years in the Nineties, found out fol­low­ing a bone den­sity scan that she had os­teope­nia in her spine and hip bones.

The TV reg­u­lar says the dis­cov­ery spurred her to make some ad­di­tional life­style changes. Here, Anthea talks to us about the steps she’s tak­ing to re­duce her risk of bone frac­tures, and her bat­tle to re­build her­self fol­low­ing the break­down of her mar­riage to Grant Bovey af­ter 13 years to­gether...

How did you feel when you dis­cov­ered you had os­teope­nia?

AS some­one with a life­long pas­sion for healthy eat­ing, ex­er­cise and well­be­ing, I was re­ally shocked. The scan re­sult showed I was at high risk of os­teo­poro­sis of the spine and also at risk of a hip frac­ture.

It seemed un­fair in a way be­cause I trained as a dancer when I was young and for the past 30 years have al­ways been ac­tive. I go the gym three times a week, have never done silly di­ets, and don’t smoke and only drink oc­ca­sion­ally. Al­co­hol and smok­ing are two of the big­gest risk fac­tors for poor bone health.

De­spite the fact I feel fan­tas­tic and don’t look or feel my age, the DEXA scan [a spe­cial type of X-ray that mea­sures bone min­eral den­sity] showed me that bone loss is a silent health is­sue, that could have a dra­matic im­pact on my life if left un­de­tected or un­treated.

Do you know why it de­vel­oped?

AP­PAR­ENTLY, I’m more at risk be­cause I’ve been through the menopause but also be­cause I’m petite. It [can be] a curse of skinny peo­ple and those of us who are in­her­ently small! We don’t put our bones un­der as much stress be­cause we’re not car­ry­ing a huge amount of weight. Weight bear­ing – through body weight and im­pact ex­er­cise – ap­par­ently helps bones re­plen­ish.

We re­pro­duce our skele­ton ev­ery 10 years and if we don’t have ad­e­quate min­er­als in our diet, our body will ef­fec­tively take it from our bones, help­ing to weaken them. A poor diet – es­pe­cially one low in cal­cium – can af­fect bones.

Although I eat lots of dairy, which con­tains cal­cium – I love milk and cheese – you need Vi­ta­min D to ab­sorb it and sun­shine’s a prime source of that. As I’m fair skinned and don’t want to dam­age my skin, I’ve largely avoided the sun. So it was a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors.

What life­style changes have you made?

MY ex­er­cise has largely been dance, Pi­lates and yoga but jump­ing around, high-im­pact ex­er­cise is what I need for bone health, so now I run once a day.

I’ve also started eat­ing more oily fish and kale be­cause they’re high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help main­tain good bone den­sity. To turbo-charge my bone health, I take a cal­cium sup­ple­ment with vi­ta­min D, de­rived from ma­rine al­gae, called LithoLexal Bone Health Os­teo­porotic.

Luck­ily, I’ve also taken HRT for a long time – frankly since I ex­pe­ri­enced my first hot flush – and that can help main­tain bone den­sity. I can’t re­verse this prob­lem but I’m do­ing ev­ery­thing I can to avoid it tip­ping into os­teo­poro­sis.

How can peo­ple help them­selves stay healthy?

WE’RE all so con­scious of age­ing these days, and think about our skin, hair and the out­side of our bod­ies, but we for­get that the age­ing process is also go­ing on in­side. Our skele­ton is key in keep­ing us up and mov­ing, so we need to give bones just as much care as our ap­pear­ance.

I’m re­ally sad­dened and sur­prised by the lack of re­spon­si­bil­ity peo­ple take for their health, es­pe­cially when I see peo­ple who are abus­ing their health by be­ing over­weight, smok­ing or not do­ing any ex­er­cise.

My sis­ter, Ruth, died at 15 (she suf­fered from spina bi­fida) and would have given any­thing for legs that worked so she could run around. That made me feel, if you’ve been given a good body and you abuse it, shame on you. Value it, don’t waste it.”

You di­vorced in 2015 – how do you feel now about that now?

IN many ways, I see it as a very pos­i­tive thing in my life. It was deeply painful at the time but it helped me to change and made me re­alise I was in the wrong life. At the time, I thought it was per­fect so it was a real wake-up call.

When it hap­pened, it made me over­haul ev­ery­thing in my life, in­clud­ing my health and well­be­ing, which in a way has made me feel younger, brighter and more in touch.

It’s been a mas­sive process and bat­tle over the last five years, but I’ve fi­nally got back to be­ing the per­son I was be­fore I was mar­ried. You some­times get a lit­tle bit lost in life but in the end, you al­ways come back to who you re­ally are.

I’m happy, feel com­plete, and I’m not bit­ter. In a way, I re­gard what hap­pened as a gift – Grant gave me three beau­ti­ful step-daugh­ters and my free­dom.

Are you look­ing for love?

IT will have to be quite a guy to turn my head, but I know it will hap­pen. I’m look­ing for­ward to meet­ing that amaz­ing man whom I’m con­fi­dent will one day walk into my life.

Cur­rently though, I’m very con­tent and con­tained and I’d much pre­fer to be on my own than with the wrong per­son.

Anthea Turner, left, and with her ex-hus­band, Grant Bovey in 2012, above

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