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Health and Fitness News

A Healthy Skeleton

Are you taking care of your bones?

While you can get a new pair or shoes or a fancy new computer any time you want, you’ve only got one set of bones. And while some of them can be replaced, life is a lot easier if you’re able to keep your bones in tact and in your body your entire life.

Weak and brittle bones put you at an increased risk for breaks. If you want to get to the end of your days without undergoing replacement surgery, you’ll need optimal bone density. Though some bone weakening is unavoidable, you can slow the process by avoiding seven bone-crushing habits.

Habit 1: Sitting All Day

You sit on your commute, at your desk all day, and on the couch all evening. A sedentary lifestyle like this does more than add to your waistline. It also damages your bones. Exercise is needed to strengthen bones and the muscles that support them. Make it your goal to move more throughout the day. Wear a pedometer to help you reach 10,000 steps a day and work with your trainer to make sure your routine is bone-smart.

Habit 2: Shunning the Sun

Exposure to sunlight allows your body to absorb vitamin D. This essential nutrient helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, two nutrients needed for building strong bones. Aim to spend 10 to 15 minutes outdoors each day. If the weather is bad, you can pick up some vitamin D through the foods you eat. Not many foods naturally contain vitamin D, but you can get it from fatty fish; beef liver; egg yolks; and fortified milk, juice, and cereal.

Habit 3: Eating a High-Sodium Diet

Calcium is needed by your body to build strong bones. Unfortunately, when you eat a lot of sodium, your body actually gets rid of more calcium than usual. For this reason, limit the amount of sodium you consume each day to less than 2,300 mg. Foods high in sodium include fast foods, chips, pretzels, processed meats, frozen dinners, sauces, and pickles.

Habit 4: All Cardio & No Strength

Do you spend your entire workout doing non-weight-bearing cardio exercises? While riding bikes is a great way to strengthen your heart, lungs, and muscles, it isn’t the best for strengthening bone. Plan to incorporate strength-training exercises in your workout routine. Walking, running, dancing, lifting weights, and body-weight exercises all work against some form of resistance and strengthen bone in the process.

Habit 5: Too Much Alcohol

Alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to absorb calcium. A habit of drinking too much too often can lead to weak bones down the road. Men should limit the amount of alcohol they consume to two drinks a day and women no more than one drink a day.

Habit 6: Long-Term Prescription Use

Unfortunately, some medications cause negative side effects, and one of those may be bone loss. Some anti-inflammatory medications taken for lupus, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease, as well as certain anti-seizure drugs, can harm your bones if taken for long periods of time. Talk with your doctor if the benefit of your medications outweigh the risks. There may be alternative medications or it may be possible to reduce your medication intake with lifestyle changes.

Habit 7: Smoking

Along with causing most diseases on planet Earth, the toxins in cigarette smoke hinder your body from forming healthy bone tissue. As a result, smokers’ bones break easier than those of non-smokers, and their broken bones take longer to heal. The longer you smoke, the more damage is done. When you quit, your body begins to undo the damage and repair lost bone. Quit today and your bone’s will thank you tomorrow.