Maintaining strong bones is essential throughout our lives. Bones have many important functions in the body beyond just providing structural support, so it’s essential to make sure you’re taking steps to strengthen and protect your bones.
Keep reading to find out some of the most important steps seniors can take to build bone strength.
Why Bone Health Is Important
Bones provide structure, protect your organs, anchor your muscles, and store calcium. Because of the role bones play in your body, maintaining strong bones is important throughout life.
When you’re young, your body creates new bone material faster than old bone material is broken down, therefore increasing your bone mass. However, after around age 30, the body loses a bit more bone mass than it gains. A number of factors affect your bone health, including:
Calcium is important for maintaining bone density and decreasing the risk of fractures. A diet low in calcium contributes to early bone loss, diminished bone density, and increased potential for fractures.
In addition to the loss of bone mass, bone strength also starts to decline after about age 40. Physical activity has a large impact on your bone strength and risk for osteoporosis. Those who are inactive are at higher risk for osteoporosis.
Alcohol and Tobacco Use
Cigarette smoking contributes to a number of conditions such as heart disease, chronic lung disease, lung cancer, and esophageal cancer. However, smoking can also contribute to osteoporosis and bone fracture. Additionally, regularly drinking more than one alcoholic beverage a day for women or more than two alcoholic beverages a day for men also contributes to osteoporosis.
Certain medications can damage bone or increase the risk of osteoporosis. Long-term use of corticosteroids such as prednisone is damaging to bone density, and medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and aromatase inhibitors (used to treat breast cancer) increase the risk of osteoporosis. Ask your doctor if the medications you’re taking may contribute to osteoporosis.
Restricting food and being underweight weaken bones. Additionally, conditions such as celiac disease can affect calcium absorption in the body.
Ways to Build Bone Strength in Seniors
The challenge of building your bone strength can sound overwhelming, but as a senior, you can take simple steps that will build your bone strength and provide additional health benefits.
Maintaining a regular physical activity routine has a few benefits. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking and resistance exercises such as weightlifting can slow bone loss and strengthen your bones.
However, building stronger bones also requires providing your body with good nutrition, including Vitamin D and calcium. This combination of a healthy diet full of nutritious foods and a regular exercise routine can also help you maintain an appropriate weight, therefore reducing the risk of fractures. Walking or jogging outside when the weather is good and it’s sunny also provides dual benefits—sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D!
A regular exercise routine helps improve balance and coordination, which is essential as we age because it can help prevent falls and bone fractures that may result. Start slow and don’t do more than you can handle in order to avoid injuries.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Food is more than just fuel to get through the day. With the right food, you’ll get the supplements, vitamins, and nutrition you need. For example, foods high in calcium and Vitamin D are essential for maintaining bone health.
A varied and balanced diet can provide all of the calcium you need. Good sources of calcium include:
- Dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Green leafy vegetables such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, and okra
- Soya beans
- Plant-based drinks
- Bread and other foods made with fortified fiber
Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. Some good sources of this vitamin include:
- Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, whitefish, and trout
- Fortified cereals and milk
Your relationship with food matters. Eating healthy is important, but you also want to enjoy your food. Good food can make it easier to create and stick to a healthy diet. Remember, some of the healthiest foods are also the most delicious.
See Your Doctor
Make sure you’re regularly seeing your doctor and talking about your health and risk factors for osteoporosis. Your doctor may recommend a bone density test, which will determine your level of bone loss. This information will help decide if you should take medication to slow your bone loss.
Smoking cigarettes causes a number of health problems. When you quit smoking, even later in life, it can limit smoking-related bone loss and reduce the risk of cancers and other conditions.
Minimize Alcohol Use
Drinking in moderation is best for bone health. Drinking too much can interfere with the balance of calcium in your body. It can also interfere with the production of Vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption.
Interested in Focusing on Your Health and Wellness?
Senior living communities offer plenty of amenities to support residents and their health goals. These communities provide a dynamic food menu to support your health goals (delicious and nutritious food options!) and plenty of exercise opportunities.
Exceptional independent living communities make it easy to feel your best.
Maintenance-Free Senior Living
Think about it: You don’t have to worry about scheduling landscaping, taking care of housekeeping duties, or even planning three healthy meals a day. Senior living communities take care of all of these tasks for you so you can focus on what you truly want to do, whether that’s taking an art class, playing a game with some new friends, or walking around the beautiful community grounds. On top of these perks, you’ll also have a gorgeous apartment ideal for spending time with friends and family.
A Holistic Approach to Mental and Physical Wellness
These communities provide seniors with opportunities to build strong relationships with neighbors while taking steps to improve bone strength, too. For example, senior living communities often have physical therapy available on-site and wellness programs that make staying active easy. This holistic approach to mental and physical wellness focuses on the well-being of the whole person.
Menu Options for All Nutritional Needs
Want to make sure you’re eating healthy and building strong bones, yet want to enjoy delicious food? At Cedarhurst Senior Living community, we offer Crafted by Cedarhurst℠, a dining program that provides a variety of nutritious meal choices based on dietary needs as well as familiar favorites and regional dishes. Food is an immersive experience, and we believe it should taste and look delicious as well as nourish the body.
Discover if Independent Living Is Right for You
The secret’s out: Independent living makes retirement easy thanks to programs and services that provide conveniences such as housekeeping and landscaping, opportunities to make new friends, and numerous entertainment activities and events.
Learn more about our holistic approach to aging and health, and take our quick, free assessment to find out if it’s the right time for senior living.