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5 Ways to Improve Bone Health

Health Articles |
5 Ways to Improve Your Bone Health

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), an estimated 54 million U.S. adults are at risk for osteoporosis and low bone mass, and one in two women and up to one in four men over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

However, with May being National Osteoporosis Month, NOF has outlined several steps you can take to protect your bones and improve bone health — no matter your age. It's important to keep in mind that the habits you adopt now can affect your bone health for the rest of your life.

Get Enough Calcium and Vitamin D Every Day

Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is essential to building strong, dense bones when you're young, and to keeping them strong and healthy as you age.

NOF provides the below recommendations for daily intake of calcium and vitamin D.

Calcium

Men

Age 70 & younger

1,000 mg* daily

Age 71& older

1,200 mg* daily

Women

Age50 & younger

1,000 mg* daily

Age 51& older

1,200 mg* daily

*This includes the total amount of calcium you get from food and supplements.

Vitamin D

Women and Men

Under age 50

400-800 international units (IU) daily**

Age 50 & older

800-1,000 IU daily**

** Some people need more vitamin D. According to the Institute of Medicine, the safe upper limit of vitamin D is 4,000 IU per day for most adults.

If you aren't getting enough calcium and vitamin D on a daily basis, here are some options to help you.

  • Try low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt to add more calcium to your diet
  • Include green vegetables that have calcium in your recipes. Good choices are broccoli, bok choy, kale and turnip greens.
  • Try foods that have calcium and vitamin D added. Fortified juices, cereals, and milk alternatives like soymilk are some good choices.
  • Take a calcium supplement if you aren't getting enough calcium from foods, but don't take more calcium than you need.
  • Take a vitamin D supplement if you need one. Find out how much vitamin D you need for your age.

Do Weight-Bearing and Muscle-Strengthening Exercises

Weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises are important for building and maintaining bone density.

  • Take a brisk walk. Walking is good for bones.
  • Include muscle-strengthening (resistance) exercises in your workout by using a pair of light dumbbells or resistance bands
  • Join a gym or sign up for a group exercise class
  • Go dancing
  • Try a new sport or activity such as tennis or hiking

NOF provides the following tips for weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises:

Weight-bearing exercises

30 minutes most days of the week.Do a 30-minute session or multiple sessions spread throughout the day. The benefits to your bones are the same.

Muscle-strengthening exercises

Two to three days per week.If you don't have much time for strengthening/resistance training, do small amounts at a time. You can do just one body part each day. For example do arms one day, legs the next and trunk the next. You can also spread these exercises out during your normal day.

Maintain Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors

A healthy diet and exercising regularly can help slow or stop the loss of bone mass and help prevent fractures. 

  • Eat five or more fruits and vegetables every day
  • If you smoke, quit! Work with your healthcare provider to find the right program for you.
  • Limit alcohol to less than three drinks per day
  • Try not to eat too many salty or processed foods
  • Learn about your personal risk factors for osteoporosis

Talk to Your Doctor about Your Bone Health

There are a variety of factors that put you at risk for developing osteoporosis, including age, gender, lifestyle, medical history, family history and whether you take any medications or have medical conditions that can lead to bone loss.

  • Make an appointment with your family doctor or other healthcare provider to talk about your bone health
  • Bring a list of your bone health questions to your appointment and take notes
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need a bone density test
  • Ask your healthcare provider about other tests you may need
  • Work together with your healthcare provider to develop a plan to protect your bones
  • Improve your balance and prevent falls

Each year, about one-third of all people over age 65 will fall, and many of these falls result in broken bones. Here are some preventative measures you can take to decrease your chances of falling:

  • Do balance training exercises
  • Fall-proof your home
  • Take a Tai Chi class
  • Learn posture exercises
  • Have your hearing and vision checked each year

Find an Orthopedic Specialist

About Clark Outpatient Rehabilitation Center

The Clark Outpatient Rehabilitation Center offers physical, occupational, and speech therapies as well as hand therapy, lymphedema therapy, and pelvic floor rehabilitation, and programming for neurological impairments with ample space. Its location within steps of Doylestown Hospital—and convenient parking—on the health system’s flagship campus is in careful consideration of facilitating patient access to these popular and critical services.

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