There are 206 bones in the human body. In addition to storing calcium and enabling you to move, your bones also protect your brain, heart, and lungs. Because of this, bone health is essential to your overall well-being.
Bones constantly change throughout a person’s life. From birth through your 20’s your bones become denser as you practice healthy habits, including daily exercise and good nutrition. The ability to build bone density begins to level out around 30 and then slowly decreases with age. That’s why it’s important to focus on increasing bone mass during the young adult years. Typically, denser bones are healthier and stronger. Regardless of age, proper bone health should be a priority to help stave off conditions such as osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a common condition caused by decreased bone density, where the bones to become weak and brittle. Although the ailment is most common in postmenopausal Caucasian and Asian women, individuals of any age, race, and gender can be affected. In fact, over 2 million men are affected. Low bone density increases the likelihood that even minor falls or injuries result in broken bones.
According to Vonda Wright, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, the number one predictor of a fracture, is a past fracture and 50 percent of patients who fall and break their hip won’t return to their pre-fall condition. This means breaking or fracturing a bone shouldn’t be the reason to start paying attention to osteoporosis. Following these six tips, you can help take care of your bones well before an injury occurs.
Six Tips for Good Bone Health
- Exercise daily – Exercises such as stretching, weight-bearing activities, and resistance training helps maintain healthy bones and can even slow bone loss in older individuals. Dr. Wright recommends 30 minutes of activity per day.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Being over or underweight can contribute to a decrease in bone density.
- Get enough vitamins - Calcium and Vitamin D work together to help build strong bones.
- Do not smoke – Smoking is linked to a decrease in bone mass and an increased risk of broken bones. Plus, it’s not good for your overall health.
- Limit alcohol consumption – Having similar effects to smoking, drinking large amounts of alcohol can reduce bone mass and increase the risk of broken bones.
- Find out if you’re at risk –There are a set of risk factors associated with low bone density. Finding out if you’re at risk early allows for the opportunity to work with your doctor to develop a bone protection plan.
By following the six tips listed above you can help keep your bones and yourself healthy. To learn more about orthopaedic surgery at UPMC, visit UPMC.com/Ortho or to schedule an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon, call 412-687-3900.