Fortunately, osteoporosis is one condition on the list of preventable diseases. In fact, developing and practicing a healthy lifestyle will help ensure your bones stay strong. Here's how to get started.
- Eat a healthy diet. Make sure it includes an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D
- Stop smoking
- Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption
Bones are composed of very dynamic, active tissue that is continually removed and replaced. Minerals play a key role in this process, especially in the first 30 years of life. Therefore, a proper diet, especially as we grow and develop, is imperative. Another aspect of bone integrity is exercise. Our bones adapt to the stress we place on them, so if we exercise and are active, our bones become stronger.
High-impact exercises have been shown to be best for bones. However, high-impact activities such as aerobics and running can cause physical damage and too much of the same activity may create injuries from overuse. Walking is probably the best weight-bearing exercise you can do.
Though swimming is not a weight-bearing exercise, it uses many muscles. Muscle is attached to tendons that attach to bones, so the more you move your muscles, the better it is for your bones.
When you balance—for example, on one leg—all the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding the balance joint become stronger. Lack of balance is a common cause of falls and subsequent bone fractures. Yoga and tai chi are two types of exercise that can help improve your balance.
The bottom line? If you start practicing healthy habits early in life, such as eating a balanced diet that includes essential vitamins and minerals, and exercising regularly, you will have healthier, stronger bones.
Marnie Dominy, MS, is an exercise physiologist, professor of health science and author of the book, Choosing Your Healthy Path: A 24-Week Inspirational Guide to Weight Loss and Wellness. Learn more about Marnie by visiting her website www.choosingyourhealthypath.com.