Our skeletons are constantly changing. As children and young adults our bones and muscles are growing stronger and store calcium. Later in adulthood our bodies have a tendency to use calcium stored in bones and it can be harder to maintain a healthy skeleton. When the bones become brittle people can suffer fractures from minor falls and trauma due to osteoporosis. This can lead to loss of mobility, loss of independence and premature death. Luckily osteoporosis prevention is easy. It involves 3 things and its never too soon to start.
Diet – Calcium is required to maintain strong bones. Calcium is found in dairy products and 3 serves of dairy per day are enough to provide your calcium needs. For those who don’t eat dairy products you can take calcium supplements or eat green leafy vegetables.
Sunshine – The best way to get your vitamin D is sunshine. In Australia it is important to spend some time outside each day with face neck and arms uncovered. Up to 20 minutes in winter is enough and in summer choosing a time of day when the sun isn’t as bright is best such as early morning or evening. Many people don’t get enough sunshine for various reasons or need more sunshine due to their skin type. If you think this may be you your GP can organise a vitamin D test and discuss vitamin D supplements.
Exercise – The most important part of bone health is exercise! Unfortunately walking, cycling swimming and running are not enough to keep your skeleton strong. Exercise that incorporates resistance and balance training is needed to build up your bones. This can include weights, yoga, pilates, gardening or even carrying the groceries a little further than usual. Find something that you enjoy and make it a part of your lifestyle. Starting a resistance training program can be very daunting for some people. Your GP, an exercise physiologist or personal trainer can all help create a safe fun program for healthy bones.