Strong Bones & Aging

Posted on 05-22-2024 in Primary Care Sports Medicine, aging & Bone Health by Dr. Ryan Riggs

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, approximately 2 million older Americans sustain fractures yearly due to weak bones. By 2025, that number is predicted to rise to 3 million fractures annually. At North Florida Bone & Joint Specialists, we recognize the importance of maintaining strong bones, particularly as you age. In honor of Healthy Aging Month, the following tips can help you maintain, and even improve, your bone strength:

  • Understand your risk for fracture. Consider factors such as your age, whether you smoke, have a history of falls, are diabetic, have inflammatory or autoimmune diseases, take certain medications that cause bone loss or have decreased bone density.
  • Understand your risk for bone loss. Genetics plays a significant role in bone health, and some people are predisposed to higher rates of bone turnover after menopause or with aging. Bone metabolism testing can provide additional information about your risk for fracture.
  • Get your heart beating faster. Aerobic activity can help you complete routine tasks and keep both your body and mind in good condition. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. This may include taking a swim, going on a bike ride, playing a game of pickleball or taking a stroll around your neighborhood with a friend. Weight-bearing exercises will have the most benefit on bone health. Start slow if you need to. Even a 5-minute walk can have real health benefits.
  • Build your muscle strength. Strengthening your muscles can make opening jars, getting up from a chair and other daily activities much easier. Whether you do arm curls using water bottles filled with water, carrying groceries in from the car or doing squats, lunges or arm circles in your living room, you can improve your muscle strength in as little as two days a week.
  • Work on your balance. Improving your balance can lower your risk of falls and decrease the likelihood of injury if you do fall. Simple exercises such as standing steady on one leg for short periods and walking backward and sideways can help you develop your sense of balance. Yoga and Tai Chi classes also include balance enhancement techniques if your current health status permits participating in more regimented workouts.
  • Understand how calcium and Vitamin D work together. The health of our bones depends on a steady stream of nutrients, most notably calcium and Vitamin D. Calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong bones as well as other physical functions, such as muscle control and blood circulation. Because calcium is not made in the body, it must be absorbed from our food. However, for our bodies to effectively absorb calcium from food, we also need Vitamin D.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being underweight raises the risk of bone loss and fractures, while those who are overweight have a higher risk of falling.
  • Don’t smoke and reduce alcohol consumption. Smoking and heavy alcohol use play a role in losing bone mass, ultimately increasing your risk for broken bones. In addition, overconsumption of alcohol can lead to falls, among other avoidable injuries.
  • Take measures to prevent falls. While exercise can improve your balance and help you maintain a healthy weight, reducing your risk of falling, safety precautions can also be taken around your home. Remove obstacles and clutter from pathways, install motion sensor lighting and add safety features such as grab bars and non-slip mats in the bathroom.

If you are experiencing issues with or concerned about your bone health, contact our newest addition to the NFBJS team, Dr. Ryan Riggs. As a Sports Medicine Physician, Dr. Riggs is available for consultation on various related injuries and conditions. Complete our online appointment request or call 850-916-3700 to schedule a visit today.

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