Healthy bones: How to maintain strength in later life

During our youth, it’s all about bulging biceps and effectively, ‘looking good’. 

Suffice to say, things start to change as the years catch up with us. Conditions that we never thought we would succumb to suddenly get in the way. You only have to quiz major health insurers about arthritis and bone-related statistics that blight the population to fully understand. 

While this is effectively a part of life, there are ways to preserve your bones. They’re not guaranteed success, but you can severely limit your chances of becoming one of the millions who suffer from bone-related conditions each year by adhering to them.

Eat foods that build bones 

The first and arguably most important way to maintain strong bones as you age is to eat foods that help to build them. This means consuming plenty of calcium, the main mineral found in bones. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yoghurts are excellent sources of calcium and green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach. 

Other foods that are good for bone health include: 

  • Salmon – This oily fish is packed with vitamin D, essential for calcium absorption. 
  • Soy – Soybeans and tofu are a great source of protein and contain isoflavones, which have been linked to bone-preserving properties. 
  • Nuts – Almonds, Brazil nuts and walnuts contain magnesium, another mineral essential for bone health. 
  • Fortified foods – Breakfast cereals, some bread and orange juice are often fortified with calcium, vitamin D or both.

Bulk your diet with all of the above, and you won’t go far wrong.

A solid exercise regime is crucial

Exercise is important for bone health at any age, but it’s especially crucial for older people. Weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening activities help maintain or increase bone density, which can help prevent osteoporosis

Weight-bearing activities include walking, running, dancing and stair climbing, while the likes of lifting weights, using resistance bands and working with your body weight (such as push-ups, sit-ups and squats) tend to build muscle. Try and incorporate both types of activities into a consistent exercise regime, and you’ll be doing your chances a world of good.

The perils of smoking

It’s a classic health suggestion, right? The dangers of smoking are well documented, but it’s also worth mentioning that it’s one of the worst things you can do for your bones. Smoking decreases the amount of calcium absorbed from the diet and increases the risk of osteoporosis. It also impairs blood flow, which can hamper the delivery of nutrients to bones. 

Limit alcohol intake 

We all like a drink or two, but it’s important to limit your alcohol intake to maintain healthy bones. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to several problems, including decreased bone density and an increased risk of fractures. 

Are we going to suggest going completely tee-total in your advancing years? Of course not. Like anything, it’s all about moderation.