The importance of our bones cannot be understated – not only do they provide a frame for our bodies, but they are also instrumental in allowing us to stand, walk, and run. By keeping your bones strong and healthy, you will be able to keep doing the things you enjoy for longer, and reduce the risk of breaks. Osteoporosis is a bone disease where the body either loses too much bone mass or doesn’t make enough, leading to weakened, brittle bones. If often occurs as part of the natural ageing process, but by looking after your bones, you can stave off the onset of osteoporosis that bit longer. Top rheumatologist and osteoporosis expert Dr Taher Mahmud is here with 5 top tips to help improve and maintain your bone health.
1. Do regular exercise
We never stop hearing about how exercise is good for you, but it’s true! Not only is exercise good for the heart, the lungs, the muscles, and for losing weight, but regular weight-bearing exercises are also good for the bones. Jogging, hiking, jumping, and even climbing stairs can provide the pressure your body needs to respond by strengthening your bones.
2. Keep an eye on your nutrition
To prevent your bones from becoming brittle, it is important to keep them stocked with a good supply of calcium, vitamin D, and proteins. Dairy foods (milk, cheese, yoghurt, etc.) are rich in calcium and protein, while certain fish, fruit, and green vegetables (e.g. broccoli, kale) also contain calcium. Vitamin D primarily comes from exposure to sunlight, while small amounts can be found in food such as egg yolk, salmon, and tuna. Calcium or vitamin D deficiencies can lead bones to weaken, so ensuring you take in enough of both is essential to osteoporosis prevention.
3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- As you might expect, being overweight puts pressure on the skeleton, and could lead to bone damage. However, being underweight (with a BMI of less than 20) also increases the risk of fracture.
- Smoking is bad for you? Who knew?! Among the many negative effects tobacco has on the body is the fact that it increases the risk of bone fractures and breaks.
- Alcohol can increase the risk of fracture too, although one or two glasses of wine or beer here or there won’t impact your bone health.
4. Know your osteoporosis risk factors
It is sensible to be aware of the risk factors that make for a higher chance of developing osteoporosis. For instance, it is more common in women than in men, and the risk becomes greater with age.
5. Take osteoporosis medication (if prescribed by a doctor)
There are many treatments available to help improve your bone density, and stave off the effects of osteoporosis, but these should only be taken when prescribed by a doctor. If you are concerned you might have osteoporosis, you should consult your GP or a specialist.