It is never too early or too late to start thinking about your bone health! Bone density refers to the strength of your bones. Up until around the age of 30 you are actually increasing your bone density, because more bone is being made than is being lost. After age 30, your bone mass is gradually decreasing as you age. Women experience a large loss in bone mass after menopause. Even if you are over the age of 30, you can still help slow the process of bone loss by adopting healthy habits.
Osteoporosis is weak bone that has lost density. Osteoporotic bones are more likely to break than regular bone because they are not as strong. Osteoporosis affects 55% of Americans age 55 and older. Preventing osteoporosis ultimately should be a life-long process.
You want to ensure you are getting enough nutrients to support good bone health. This includes calcium and vitamin D, important in the building of bone. You also want to minimize alcohol, caffeine, salt, and too much protein, which all can contribute to the body losing calcium or not being able to store calcium as well. Consult your primary care provider if you are not sure if you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D.
In addition to eating correctly, exercise is another huge part of building strong bones. Weight bearing exercises and strengthening exercises help to build stronger bones. Weight bearing exercises include things like walking, jogging, and high impact aerobics. These types of exercises help to stimulate bone to add density. People who already have low bone density should consult their doctor before undertaking high impact exercises. Muscle strengthening exercises also help to build stronger bones because the force of the muscle pulling on the bone encourages them to add density.
Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for activity for adults age 18 to 64 include 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (ie. brisk walking) every week and muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days per week that work all major muscle groups. Activity could also include 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week instead of moderate-intensity. To meet guidelines you can also include an equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous activities. You can meet guidelines with bursts of exercise as little as 10 minutes at a time!
Adopting healthier habits today will help build your bone density and ensure you have strong bones as you keep moving throughout life!
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2014). How much physical activities do adults need? Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html
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