A LIFETIME OF BONE & JOINT HEALTH
As more and more attention is focused on extending the health span – a person’s years of overall health and higher quality of life – strong bones and joints are emerging as critical components. And that’s no surprise. Weak, brittle bones can lead to painful fractures, reduced mobility and a poor aging experience.
Fortunately, there are ways to build, maintain and even recover bone mass at every stage of life. Read on for helpful tips on developing strong support from the inside out.
Child & Teen
Since bone and joint health begin in childhood, it’s important to help kids get a healthy start.
- Calcium is one of the cornerstones of bone health. Serve plenty of milk – not sodas! – and calcium-rich foods such as cheese, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, almonds and white beans.
- Physical activity puts a load on bones, helping them grow strong. Make sure kids get plenty of exercise and active play. To protect joints, especially for student-athletes, encourage moderation and variety.
- Smoking can have a negative impact on bone mass, so discourage the habit early and often.
Bone mass peaks in the late 20s and early 30s. But changes in schedule and lifestyle can have a big impact on bone and joint health.
- Drinking less milk means getting less calcium. If you’re not reaching the recommended intake, either do a menu makeover or start taking a calcium supplement.
- Alcohol interferes with the absorption of calcium and vitamin D. While moderate alcohol consumption (one or two alcoholic beverages) is acceptable, chronic heavy drinking – especially during these years – can increase the risk of osteoporosis later.
- Even people who were fit in high school can have a hard time adjusting to new college and career demands, putting exercise on the back burner. Download a fitness app. Use a standing desk. Schedule active outings with friends on the weekend. Find ways to work exercise into your schedule to stay healthy (you’ll be thankful later!).
Family and work routines are often well established. Now it’s time to be proactive, making good decisions that will impact quality of life in the years to come.
- Carrying extra pounds can wear on hips and knees. To protect your joints (and help prevent arthritis), make exercise a priority throughout life. Remember, a slowing metabolism might mean it takes extra time to maintain fitness.
- After 50, calcium requirements increase for post-menopausal women. Hormone changes can accelerate bone loss for both men and women, but the change is more gradual in men.
- Osteoporosis is a silent condition that eats away at bones, leaving them thin, weak and at risk for fractures. Ask your doctor about the right time for a bone-density test.
Strength and stability go a long way toward enjoying a healthy life. Continue making smart exercise and nutrition choices, and take advantage of medical options to support bone and joint health.
- Vitamin D is necessary for the proper absorption of calcium, and a lack of this vitamin is now being recognized as a major cause of metabolic bone disease in the elderly. Most foods do not contain any vitamin D, and even fortified foods aren’t a reliable source. Talk to your doctor about increasing your calcium intake to 1000-1500 mg/d and vitamin D to at least 400 IU/d.
- Exercise continues to be a key component of bone and joint health. Balance and core-strength exercise can be especially helpful in improving stability and coordination, reducing the risk of injury from falls.
- Bone-building medications can slow or stop the progression of osteoporosis, and even reverse its effects. Speak to your doctor about options.
For more information on building and maintaining healthy bones and joints, speak to one of our specialists today.