During your childhood, your skeleton naturally grows in size and density. As you age, good habits lay the foundation for future bone health. While it’s true that childhood and adolescence are important times for bone development, there are several steps you can take to improve your bone health when you’re an adult, including:
- Increasing your physical activity, incorporating high impact exercises to improve bone density
- Eating a diet that’s rich in calcium
- Making lifestyle changes like becoming more active, quitting smoking and losing weight
As you get older, old bone breaks down at a slightly faster rate than your body builds new bone. Thinned and weakened bones lead to an increased risk of a fracture. Being proactive about your bone health helps to slow this bone loss.
Let your doctor at the Southeastern Spine Institute in Mt. Pleasant, SC devise a plan to help you maintain strong bones. To tailor a plan just for you, both your doctor and your physical therapist take into account any back or knee problems you may have.
Can Exercise Help Develop Strong Bones?
Exercise is an excellent way to build strong bones, especially when you incorporate moves that don’t harm your back. People who are physically inactive are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a common bone loss condition among both men and women. Activities that improve bone health include:
- Strength training. Adding resistance to movements and lifting weights makes both muscles and bones stronger. Use barbells, dumbbells and elastic bands in structured, regular routines. Follow proper form when lifting weights to prevent injury.
- Weight-bearing exercise. These are exercises that resist you as you move or force you to move against gravity. Activities in this category include walking, jogging, climbing stairs and dancing.
Be sure to warm up before doing any exercise. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, check with your doctor to find out which exercises are best for you. Most injuries occur when you push too hard before your body is prepared for the stress.
Which Nutrients Help Develop Strong Bones?
A balanced diet improves your overall health, well-being and bone strength. Your diet should include plenty of fresh fruits, whole grains, lean meat and vegetables. Calcium is one of the main building blocks of bone and is found in:
- Dairy products
- Calcium-fortified orange juice
- Green leafy vegetables
Additionally, Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. This important nutrient is found in:
- Fortified milk
- Oily fish, such as tuna, whitefish, salmon and trout
- Sunlight, even when you’re wearing sunscreen
Calcium needs increase after age 70, as well as during pregnancy and lactation. If you’re concerned about getting enough of these nutrients from your diet, your doctor can tell you the appropriate amount that are right for your needs. If you need them, dietary supplements can provide additional nutritional support.
What Should You Avoid for Healthy Bones?
Some lifestyle choices have a negative impact on your overall health and the health of your bones. Certain substances interfere with your body’s ability to use nutrients to develop strong bones, especially when used in excess amounts. These substances include:
Contact your doctor at the Southeastern Spine Institute with any questions about how to develop strong bones. You may need a bone density test if you’re at risk of developing osteoporosis or over the age of 65. Medication is often the first line of defense if the test shows bone loss.