No matter what your age, these healthy habits are good for your bones.
Osteoporosis is not inevitable as you age. You can build stronger bones and help prevent osteoporosis with just a few healthy habits.
- How can I keep my bones strong and healthy?
Preventing osteoporosis should begin in childhood, but no matter what your age, it’s never too late to take steps to strengthen your bones. The prescription for good bone health is simple: exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, get enough calcium and vitamin D, avoid smoking and limit alcohol.
- How much calcium and vitamin D do I need?
Women under the age of 50 need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. After age 50, calcium needs increase to 1,200 milligrams daily. It’s also important to get about 600 IUs of vitamin D to ensure adequate absorption of calcium.
- What are the best exercises to prevent osteoporosis?
You can build and maintain bone density with weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging, hiking or skiing. Muscle-strengthening exercises are also important. Engage in strength and resistance training using free weights, exercise bands or your own body weight. If tests show your bones are already thinning, be careful about exercises that might cause you to fall. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist before you start any new program.
- How do I know if I need a bone density test?
A bone density scan, or DEXA scan, can detect thinning bones at an early stage. The test is painless and safe, using only very low-energy radiation to determine your bone density. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that women over age 65 get a bone density scan. If you’re under 65 with certain risk factors, you may also need to be tested. This includes women with a family history of osteoporosis, those who weigh under 127 pounds and current smokers. It’s best to discuss your need for a bone density test with your physician.
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Date Last Reviewed: March 14, 2019
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Dr. Dennis Ivill, MD