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Ask The Doctor: Strengthen bones by staying active

Dec 24, 2014 07:13AM, Published by Community News Service, Categories: Community



Concerned about your health? Experts from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton are ready to answer readers’ questions. Send your questions to askthedoc@rwjuhh.edu.

Q. I’m in my 50s and concerned about my bone health. What can I do to keep my bones healthy and prevent conditions like osteoporosis?

A. Bone health is very important, especially as we age and begin to lose bone mass. Poor bone health can lead to conditions such as osteopenia and, eventually, osteoporosis, which causes bones to become so thin that they can break easily. Bone fractures in the spine or hip are the most serious complications, as they can lead to permanent disability.

The best thing you can do to keep your bones healthy and prevent osteoporosis is to stay active. Weight-bearing exercises such as running, walking and stair climbing are the most effective when it comes to strengthening your bones. You should also look into doing some resistance training with exercise bands or light weights, as well as balance exercises such as yoga, Pilates or workouts with special balance equipment like the BOSU® ball. Not only will these exercises help you improve your bone health, but maintaining good strength and balance will also help you to avoid falls if you already have osteoporosis.

You should work with your physician to find a workout that best fits your fitness and activity level. It’s also best to try and exercise in a group or class setting, especially if you have not exercised regularly in the past.

In addition to exercise, you should maintain a healthy diet and make sure that you are getting the appropriate amount of calcium and vitamin D. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, women should get 1,000 mg of calcium daily up to age 50 and 1,200 mg daily after age 50. Men up to age 70 should get 1,000 mg daily, and 1,200 mg daily from age 71 on. It’s recommended that both men and women over 50 get 800-1,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D daily. Talk to your physician to determine which amounts are best for you, and if you can obtain them through your diet or through supplements.

–Dr. Janey Hughes, RWJ Family & Internal Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton

This content is intended to encourage a healthy lifestyle. For medical advice and treatment, see a physician.


Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton Dr. Janey Hughes


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