Throughout life, the density of our bones naturally fluctuate.
During childhood we experience rapid growth. I’m sure if you have children in and around your life, you will have experienced their love of jumping, climbing and running! To them it’s fun and games, but the impact of these activities actually help their bones develop and to what degree.
Moving on through the teenage years, adolescence and early adulthood, bone density is still increasing up to the age of around 30 years, where you will reach your peak bone mass.
Up until this age you can still influence the rate of which bone density is developed.
Beyond this age, bone mass may plateau then gradually begins to decline. During this phase it is still very important to continue physical activity to slow the rate as much as possible. This is important because having low bone density or Osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures later in life.
The rate in which we build/lose bone mass can somewhat be determined by genetics, levels and types of exercise, nutrition, certain conditions/diseases and some medication use. A DEXA scan is used to determine levels and is usually taken from 65 years of age onwards or earlier if you have other risk factors.
Here are some ways you can actively build or maintain your bone health:
1. Ensure you are getting an adequate intake of Vitamin D and Calcium:
The best way to increase calcium intake is through food, some of the highest levels are found in foods such as-
- Dark leafy greens
- Ricotta and other dairy products
Some products such as cereals, milk and juice are fortified with added vitamins.
Smaller intakes throughout the day are better absorbed.
Vitamin D is gained through food and sunlight- though for many people, supplementation is necessary.
Some foods are sources of vitamin D such as:
- Fatty fish and fish liver oils
- Mushrooms and fortified foods.
2. Maintain exercise levels:
- Weight bearing impact loading exercises are beneficial such as bounding and skipping with a rope.
- Resistance Training- Using Therabands and weights or simply body weight. Think squats, lunges and arm movements against resistance.
3. Fall Prevention Techniques:
Balancing exercises can help prevent falls which often lead to bone fracture in older age.
- Balance Training- such as standing on one foot with arms out to the side for balance then move to the other leg by stepping forwards or side-ways. Repeat 10-20 times initially.
- Moving exercises- such as walking in small circles, try both directions.
People with diagnosed Osteoporosis should avoid exercises which involve twisting of the hips and spine. It is recommended that beginners attend a supervised exercise program.
4. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption, smoking cessation if applicable.
Over time, bone density levels are influenced in a number of ways. The best way to support this is through good nutrition and exercise, making small steps today could have a lasting impact on your future health.
The team at Blackburn Allied Health are here to help support you towards achieving your goals.