Osteoporosis risk increases as you age, but it isn’t inevitable that you’ll develop this disease. You do lose bone as you age, but you can mitigate that loss and ward off the dangers of fragile, thin bones that are vulnerable to fractures.
Take specific steps to help you maintain bone strength as you age. Your diet and exercise habits go a long way in preserving your bone health, even as you get older.
Get enough calcium
If you’re a woman who’s gone through menopause or a man older than 70, aim to consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day. Calcium is one of the single most important nutrients that contribute to the development of bone tissue.
Three servings of dairy per day help you achieve this goal. That’s one cup of low-fat milk or yogurt. Alternatively, consume calcium-fortified almond or soy milk or calcium-fortified orange juice. Leafy green vegetables also contain some calcium as does canned fish with bones included. If you’re not consuming enough calcium through whole foods, the doctors at the Center for Women’s Health can recommend supplements.
Consume vitamin D, too
Vitamin D helps your body absorb and utilize calcium to contribute to strong bones. You naturally synthesize vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, but in many areas of the United States, the sun is too weak. And, as you age, you become less efficient at producing vitamin D, too.
Vitamin D is available in some foods, including milk fortified with the vitamin and salmon. Talk to your doctor at the Center for Women’s Health to see if you’d benefit from a vitamin D supplement to support your bone health.
Do weight-bearing exercise
Exercise of all kinds can benefit your heart and muscular systems, but only weight-bearing exercise helps you build bones. This means that if your primary way of staying fit involves swimming or bicycling, you may need some revision as these exercises do not put adequate stress on your bones to stimulate bone growth.
Hiking, walking, jogging, and dancing stress your bones, so they produce more osteoblasts to strengthen the bones. Add in weight training, using dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, and even your own body weight, to further develop bone strength. Even if you stick to non-weight-bearing cardio, doing resistance exercise two to three times per week helps you maintain bone strength as you age.
If you’re mostly sedentary, introduce exercise slowly. Add in a 10-minute walk a couple times per day and do just one set of eight to 10 reps of an exercise for all your major body parts using your body weights or light weights at two or three workouts per week. Examples include push-ups – even against a wall – squats, shoulder presses, triceps dips, curls, rows, and crunches.
Over time, you can build your stamina to perform weight-bearing cardio for 30 minutes at a time, most days of the week. You may also extend your resistance exercises to include two or three sets of each exercise and use heavier weights to provide enough challenge to maintain strong bones.
If you want help implementing a healthier lifestyle to ensure bone strength, call or book a consultation online with Center for Women’s Health.