Our bones weaken as we age, which means we’re more vulnerable to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis makes bones brittle, so individuals with the condition are more likely to fracture after an accident or simply during everyday activities. Furthermore, an aging adult’s body may reabsorb calcium and phosphate instead of keeping it all in the bones as they age. As these vital components of bone health are lost, the body eventually becomes weaker, resulting in osteoporosis. Nevertheless, there are simple ways to prevent weakening and to prevent further bone loss.
How to prevent bone loss with lifestyle changes
Preventing bone loss is easier than one may think, including a few manageable lifestyle changes. One of the best ways to ward off weakness is to make sure you’re consuming foods high in calcium such as dairy products, green leafy vegetables and salmon. Vitamin D is also required for calcium to be absorbed. Moreover, Harvard Health suggests 800 to 1000 IU per day may be beneficial for older adults looking to slow or stop bone loss.
Among several natural ways to slow or prevent bone loss, exercise is among the most effective and is linked to higher bone mass as well as stronger bones. Despite the benefits of any type of exercise, some are more beneficial for building muscle and strengthening bones, especially weight-bearing and resistance-based exercises.
Best exercises to prevent bone loss
It’s important to determine if you already have bone loss or osteoporosis before beginning an exercise program. In spite of the fact that exercise can be beneficial, specific activities can damage the spine and should be avoided by those with low bone density. Furthermore, you should avoid exercising with your back flexed, bent or twisted.
For seniors hoping to prevent bone loss, weight-bearing aerobic exercises are most recommended. Weight-bearing aerobics are exercises that are done on your feet with your bones supporting your weight. By focusing on the lower part of the body, such as the legs, hips and lower spine; weight-bearing exercise reduces mineral loss in the bones. For seniors to reap the benefits of weight-bearing exercise, they should walk, hike, jog, climb stairs, use elliptical training machines, dance, garden or play tennis.
By making your muscles work against a weight or force, resistance training builds strength, especially in spinal muscles that are important for posture. Resistance training is also linked to helping maintain bone density. Seniors interested in resistance training should seek out free weights such as dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells, weight machines and resistance bands that employ their body weight.
Care should be taken when introducing resistance training. A physical therapist can help those who already have osteoporosis to develop an exercise regimen with proper form and technique.
Performing weight-bearing aerobic exercises for seniors – coupled with resistance training – can significantly reduce the risk of bone loss and further prevent more damage. Consult a physician prior to starting a fitness program, as certain tests and bone density measurements may be necessary.