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Keeping our bones healthy

No matter your age, strong bones play an important role in helping you maintain a healthy and independent life. Strong and healthy bones can also reduce the risk of general aches and pains. In addition, healthy bones can help reduce the risk of fractures and diseases like osteoporosis. So how can you keep your bones in tip top shape?

There are more than two hundred bone in the adult human body. While you might think that once you reach adulthood, your bones will take care of themselves, but the truth is, they need some help to keep strong and healthy from childhood right through to adulthood.

From eating calcium rich foods to getting regular exercise, there are a couple of ways you can help your bones stay healthy.

Eat foods rich in calcium

Calcium is an essential ingredient for strong and healthy bones. While most of your body’s calcium is found in your bones, some of it is also absorbed by your blood because calcium is necessary for a healthy heart, muscles and nerves.

Think of your bones as like a ‘calcium bank’. If you’re not getting enough calcium in your diet, your body will ‘withdraw’ calcium from your bones to keep your heart and muscles healthy. And if you have more withdrawals than deposits, this can affect your bone density. The best way to keep your bone bank healthy is to eat foods rich in calcium.

Calcium rich foods include:

  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, yoghurt
  • Leafy green vegetables like broccoli, bok choy and spinach
  • Calcium fortified soy products including tofu and tempeh
  • Tinned salmon and sardines
  • Dried figs and almonds

Soak up some Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in keeping your bones healthy. Therefore, if your vitamin D levels are low, you risk bone and joint pain and an increased risk of falls and fractures in older people. Serious vitamin D deficiency can result in rickets.

The main source of vitamin D is the sun. As a result, it’s important to balance our need for vitamin D against the risk of skin damage posed by UV rays. During summer across the country, a few minutes of sun exposure outside of the peak UV time of mid-morning to mid-afternoon. In winter in the southern states, you may need longer exposure. Check out the guidelines provided by SunSmart

Man with prosthetic leg exercising

Get regular exercise

Getting regular exercise helps you to maintain and improve your bone density. When we’re talking bone health, the goals of exercise change as we age. In childhood and adolescence, it’s about building bone strength while as we age the focus shifts to reducing bone loss. Above all, to get the most benefit out of the activity you do, it should be regular and varied.

There are two types of exercise that can help with bone

  • Weight bearing exercise like jogging or brisk walking, basketball or netball, dancing or tennis
  • Resistance training like lifting weights

Some exercise like tennis and basketball are highly osteogenic, which means they have a high ability to build bone whereas other exercise like yoga or pilates are low osteogenic.

Please note the information supplied here is general in nature. Please consult your medical practitioner for individual advice.

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