In the United States, half of all women and a quarter of all men over the age of 50 will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis. Just as disheartening, each year approximately one-third of Americans age 65 and older will fall. Many of these falls will result in broken bones.
While these statistics are troubling, it is critical to understand that osteoporosis is not a normal part of aging and is largely a preventable disease.
You are never too young or too old to take action. In fact, peak bone mass — when bones have reached their maximum strength and density — is achieved in our mid-20s. No matter your age, there is no time like the present to regularly practice good habits to protect your bones and help prevent future bone density loss.
Proper nutrition, including adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, as well as daily weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise, are essential. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) has a breadth of resources about nutrition and physical activity on its website at www.nof.org. Incorporating several simple “to-dos” into your daily routine will go a long way toward improving bone health and living a good, active and independent life.
“Everyone needs to make healthy bones a priority,” said Claire Gill, CEO of NOF. “The majority of Americans don’t realize how important their bone health is until they have a debilitating fracture. Two key components that everyone can weave into their lifestyle are good nutrition and exercise. There are so many easy options to consider, which will go a long way in helping you to stay bone strong.”
Calcium and vitamin D are key
Eating a well-balanced diet with enough calcium and vitamin D is critical for healthier bones. Some examples of calcium-rich foods include dairy, nuts, leafy greens, and fish. Fatty fish, such as wild-caught mackerel, salmon, and tuna, are great sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is also added to milk and other dairy products, orange juice, soymilk, and fortified cereals.
Your skin makes vitamin D as a reaction to sunlight and stores it in fat for later use, so try to get outside and enjoy some fun in the sun!
There are many other good-for-your-bones foods with several key nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Exercise each day
There are two types of exercises that are important for building and maintaining bone density: weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.
Weight-bearing exercises can be high-impact or low-impact:
- Examples of high-impact weight-bearing exercises include dancing, high-impact aerobics, hiking, jogging, running, jumping rope, stair climbing, and tennis.
- Low-impact weight-bearing exercises can also help keep bones strong, and are a safe alternative if you cannot do high-impact exercises. Consider using elliptical training machines, doing low-impact aerobics, and speed walking outside or on a treadmill.
Muscle-strengthening exercises include activities where you move your body, a weight, or some other resistance against gravity. They are also known as resistance exercises and include lifting weights, using elastic exercise bands, using weight machines, lifting your own body weight, and doing functional movements like standing and rising up on your toes.
Visit https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/exercisesafe-movement/ for additional information and resources.
Please note that if you haven’t exercised in a while, you should check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new routine.
By making good bone health an essential part of your lifestyle today, you will pave the way for a vital and fulfilling future.