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Want healthy bones and joints in old age? Adopt these key lifestyle changes

Updated on Aug 11, 2022 07:24 PM IST

We build bone mass throughout our early years in childhood and adolescent life whereas during old age we tend to lose bone mass which can lead to pains, discomfort, fractures and also stooped posture or hunch back, etc. Adopt these lifestyle modifications to keep your bones and joints healthy

Want healthy bones and joints in old age? Adopt these key lifestyle changes (Alena Darmel)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

We see a lot of people in the age of 50 years and above with some bone and joint pain, which could be avoided if proper care is taken in early years of life since one in three women and one in five men above the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is reduction in bone mass - Bone Mineral Density (BMD) which leads to microdamage to the bones and increases susceptibility to fracture.

We build bone mass throughout our early years in childhood and adolescent life, whereas during old age we tend to lose bone mass and most people achieve their peak bone mass by the age of 30 while women, especially post-menopausal are more prone to develop osteoporosis. That is why if proper precautions are not taken during young age, it may lead to severe weakening of bones in later years of life and problems of joints and bones can lead to pains, discomfort, fractures and also stooped posture or hunch back, etc.

According to Dr Dayaram Prajapati, Consultant Physiotherapist at Masina Hospital, lots of factors can affect bone health which include:

1. Calcium - A diet low in calcium contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.

2. Physical activity - Physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis

3. Tobacco and alcohol consumption - Intake of tobacco and alcohol can reduce bone mineral density. So stop smoking, tobacco chewing and alcohol.

4. Sex - You're at greater risk of osteoporosis if you're a woman, because women have less bone tissue than do men.

5. Size - You're at risk if you are extremely thin (with a body mass index of 19 or less) or have a small body frame because you might have less bone mass to draw from as you age.

6. Age - Your bones become thinner and weaker as you age.

7. Eating disorders and other conditions - Severely restricting food intake and being underweight weakens bone in both men and women.

8. Certain medications - Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone, is damaging to bone.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Anup Khatri, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Global Hospital in Parel Mumbai, revealed some lifestyle modifications, which if adapted in young age can keep your bones and joints healthy:

1. Nutrition - a balanced diet which has fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses and dairy products is needed for healthy life. Dietary minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins such as vitamin D are necessary for good bone health.

2. For adults ages 19 to 50 and men ages 51 to 70, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg a day for women age 51 and older and for men age 71 and older.

3. Milk, cheese, yogurt, dark leafy vegetables, chicken, boiled egg are rich sources of calcium and phosphorus.

4. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. For adults ages 19 to 70, the RDA of vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs) a day. The recommendation increases to 800 IUs a day for adults age 71 and older.

5. Milk, soya, mushrooms, cod liver oil and egg yolk are rich sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is also produced under skin in sunlight.

6. For muscle wellbeing – vitamin E, essential amino acids, levocarnitine, etc are helpful. If needed visit a trained nutritionist.

7. Exercise - Burning calories through exercises is equally important. Workout for at least 30 minutes (adults) to 60 minutes (children) every day helps to keep muscles and bones strong. Cycling, weight training, endurance exercises, walking uphill with a light backpack are few good routines for good bone strength. Exercising also strengthens your muscle strength and helps to maintain good posture and give good stability to joints. Physical activity to specifically benefit bone health should involve loading (stressing) the skeleton. In children above 8 years and adolescents, weight bearing and short intense activities like gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, running, jumping, dancing, soccer can be included in regular routine. For adults, walking, jogging, climbing stairs, weight training increased gradually, recreational activities like hiking, tennis and also balance training should be included as routine.

8. Pilates and yoga help with flexibility and core strength.

9. Weight loss if you are overweight. Overweight people are more prone to develop arthritis and osteoporosis.

10. Caffeinated drinks like cola or other fizzy drinks reduces calcium absorption. So, to absorb the dietary calcium, one should avoid such caffeinated drinks.

11. Intake of tobacco and alcohol can reduce bone mineral density. So stop smoking, tobacco chewing and alcohol.

12. Correct posture while sitting and standing helps to prevent back and other joint problems.

13. Every person above 45 years of age should get Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test done. Especially post-menopausal women should check it on regular intervals.

Gushing over benefits of exercising, Dr Dayaram Prajapati said, “Most people are familiar with many of the benefits of exercise, such as improving muscle strength and endurance, reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke, and preventing obesity. Perhaps not as well understood is the importance of regular physical activity in building and maintaining healthy bones. Inactivity causes loss of bone. Aging, along with certain diseases and medications, can cause bones to become very weak and fragile over time (osteoporosis). When you exercise regularly, your bone adapts by building more bone and becoming denser. This improvement in bone requires good nutrition, including adequate calcium and Vitamin D.”

He suggested, “To help you stay motivated, choose an activity that you enjoy like swimming or cycling or any outdoor activities that will get you on your feet and moving. Consume sources rich in proteins, carbohydrates, calcium and phosphorus. Correct posture while sitting and standing helps to prevent back and other joint problems. Burning calories through exercise is equally important. Correct posture while sitting and standing helps to prevent back and other joint problems.”

Sharing tips on what one can do to keep their bones healthy, he recommended:

1. You can take a few simple steps to prevent or slow bone loss.

2. Include plenty of calcium in your diet.

3. Good sources of calcium include Dairy products, Almonds, Broccoli, canned salmon with bones, sardines, soya products such as tofu.

4. Pay attention to vitamin D. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish, such as salmon, trout, whitefish and tuna. Additionally, mushrooms, eggs and fortified foods, such as milk and cereals, are good sources of vitamin D. Sunlight also contributes to the body’s production of vitamin D.

5. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, and climbing stairs, can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss.

6. Avoid substance abuse. Don’t smoke. If you are a woman, avoid drinking more than one alcoholic drink each day. If you are a man, avoid drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day.

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