The CDC recently released a report that over 14 million Americans aged 50 and older suffer from osteoporosis, which means that their bones are weaker and therefore more susceptible to fractures. You have likely known an older person who fell and broke a hip or a femur–a common problem for the elderly–which means you also know firsthand how a serious bone fracture can spiral into a series of health problems.
When we proactively improve our bone health, we not only avoid potentially disastrous injuries, but we potentially unlock more years of vibrant health and activity. You can stay mobile and active. You can play catch in the backyard. You can laugh when your grandson jumps into your lap.
We gain so many memories by creating health, and protecting our bones is a part of that journey.
Why Do Our Bones Weaken as We Age?
Several factors can contribute to a loss of bone density and bone strength. Here are some of the most common:
- Poor nutrition. When we aren’t practicing Habits of Healthy Fuelings, we are less likely to get the calcium and Vitamin D our bones need to stay healthy.
- A sedentary lifestyle. Our bones benefit from exercise, so the less we move, the more likely our bones are to get weaker.
- Obesity. Excess weight has been found to contribute to dozens of health problems, from type 2 diabetes to a loss of bone density.
While these are all serious problems, I hope you can see the good news: All of the above factors are preventable if we make healthy choices.
Your Path to Protecting Your Bone Health
As always, talk to your healthcare provider before making significant lifestyle or health changes. Typically, though, we can improve bone health by doing the following:
- Building Habits of Healthy Fuelings. Simply eating the right foods and potentially supporting those habits with fuelings can give your bones the nutrients they need.
- Building Habits of Healthy Motion. A basic walking program with a target of 10,000 steps can go a long way for improving bone density, and a little bit of weight training on top of that is even better.
- Reach a healthy weight. Thriving at a healthy weight has countless benefits, and bone health is one.
You can start to implement any of these suggestions today, but remember to follow the Habits of Health approach. If you aren’t physically active today, for example, jumping into 10,000 steps a day could be too challenging. Instead, start with a micro Habit of Health (mHoH), such as walking 1,000 steps a day, and gradually increase your steps over time.
If you are working with a health coach and are using OPTAVIA tools, continue down that path. Your coach is a powerful source of support and staying on plan will help you unlock better bone health along the way.