Skeletons are showing up as our neighbors decorate for Halloween, but our own skeletons are important all year long. The decisions we make every day affect our bone health, so here are our five top tips for keeping your bones strong and your joints supple!
Get your cardio
Weight-bearing exercise, like walking, dancing, or playing sports, has important benefits for your bones and joints:
- Bones are living tissue, and they get stronger when you exercise, just as the rest of your body does.
- Cardio can also help improve circulation in your joints, which can lessen pain and make it easier to get around.
- Cardio can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, so you’re not asking as much of your muscles.
- Weight-bearing exercise also helps with balance and coordination, which makes it less likely that you will fall or otherwise injure your bones or joints.
30 minutes a day, or a weekly total of 150 minutes, is a good goal for cardio. The easiest way to accomplish this for many people is to make an appointment with yourself for the same time each day, maybe first thing in the morning or right after work, and tae a 30 minute walk.
Pump it up
Resistance exercise, like lifting weights, also strengthens bones. Try for two strength training sessions a week.
Strength training can help you keep from losing bone mass. We usually increase bone mass for the first few decades of our lives. Exercise at this stage of your life can help you build greater bone mass. After age 40, you can expect to lose about 1% of your bone mass each year.
However, lifting weights can help you avoid this bone loss. In combination with weight-bearing exercise, it can even slow or reverse osteoporosis.
Talk with your physician if you want to begin lifting weights for the first time. They may refer you to a physical therapist.
Give up risky habits
Quit smoking and cut back on alcohol to see big improvements in bone health. These two habits are rough on bones and joints.
More than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men will increase your risk for osteoporosis.
Drinking soda can also be risky for your bones. Some of these drinks contain phosphorous, which can cause loss of calcium.
Talk with your primary care physician to get help making these lifestyle changes.
Pay attention to your diet
Your bones need calcium and Vitamin D to stay strong. Many of us don’t get enough of these important nutrients. Fortified dairy products are a good source of both calcium and Vitamin D. You can also get calcium from almonds, canned salmon with bones, broccoli, kale, and other non-dairy sources.
Your body can produce Vitamin D if you get enough sunshine, and it is also available from eggs, oily fish, and mushrooms.
Talk with your doctor
Diet and exercise are very important for bone and joint health. However, there are also risk factors you can’t control, including your age, ethnic heritage, and family history. Talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and what options you may have.