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Strategies for Maintaining Healthy Bone Density
Having an unhealthy bone density, causing bones that are frail and break easily, can pose significant risks to adults at all stages of their lives. For instance, osteoporosis is a disease that, if left untreated, can lead to broken bones, surgery, hospitalization and even death. Depending on where the broken bone is, a person with osteoporosis might become permanently disabled, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. For this reason, maintaining healthy bone density throughout your life is necessary.
Step 1: Exercise
According to Project AWARE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing women with resources and information about menopause, exercise can help you maintain bone density throughout your life. While exercise during the middle of your life can help you maintain a healthy body weight, as well as a healthy lifestyle, it can also have profound effects on bone health. However, Project AWARE suggests that exercise in the later years can not only have a modest impact on bone density, but can also contribute to older adults’ quality of life.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, bone health exercises are those that require you to bear weight, such as weight lifting, climbing stairs, hiking and jogging.
Step 2: Maintain a healthy diet
Eating healthy, in addition to exercise, can actually help you maintain healthy bones. Project AWARE notes that calcium and vitamin D are associated with healthy bone density. Research has also noted that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can have a positive effect on your bone health. In fact, certain vegetables are good sources of calcium, such as bok choy, broccoli and greens. You can also go to the obvious sources for calcium — milk and other dairy products.
Step 3: Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
Healthy lifestyle decisions have an impact on nearly all parts of your life. Bone density is no different. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends against smoking and heavy use of alcohol.
In addition, Project AWARE states that some diets intended to promote thinness can have a negative effect on your bone density. Often times, diets associated with eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, can also be associated with poor nutrition, and when your body does not get the nutrients it needs, it cannot be healthy, whether you’re concerned about bone density or any other health problem.
Step 4: See your doctor and get a bone density scan
Even if you live a healthy lifestyle, you need to go to the doctor for routine checkups, especially as you get older. To diagnose problems with bone density, your doctor may order a bone density scan, also called a DXA scan. If left untreated, osteoporosis and other bone density problems can lead to disastrous consequences, including disability and even death. Going to the doctor routinely can help you come up with your personalized strategy for maintaining bone density.