Lifestyle Changes to Protect Your Bones
For all women, the following lifestyle actions can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and related fractures.
Stay physically active. Weight-bearing activities, such as walking, dancing, and vigorous household chores like vacuuming and raking leaves, help keep your bones healthy and strong. It's never too late to start. Inactivity leads to greater bone loss, so aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days.
Try the exercises for bones shown in our Bone Strengthening Exercises slide show (see sidebar). These are exercises you can do at home. Exercise also will increase muscle strength and coordination, reducing your chance of falls that might result in a broken bone.
Get enough calcium and vitamin D. They help strengthen bones. Daily recommended amounts vary by age. Talk to your doctor about your need for multivitamins and supplements.
Calcium and Vitamin D shows how much you need, by age, and food sources.
If you smoke, quit. Smoking increases your risk of osteoporosis. Check our stop-smoking resources or talk with your personal physician about getting help to quit smoking.
Avoid excessive weight loss. Although maintaining a healthy weight is important, excessive dieting may weaken your bones. If you are trying to lose weight, read about getting to a healthy weight. Also, remember that women who weigh 132 pounds or more are less likely to have frail bones than lighter women.
Prevent falls. While osteoporosis weakens bones, a fall is often what causes bones to break. High-heeled or loose-fitting shoes, loose throw rugs, slippery bathtubs, and wet or mossy steps can cause falls. Check your home for hazards that could cause falls.
Also, exercises to improve your balance can help prevent falls. Try the exercises shown in our Balance Exercises slide show. You may be surprised that balance and coordination shouldn't be taken for granted.
Women at high risk for hip fracture may want to consider wearing hip pad protectors. These are like soft cotton jockey shorts with a pad covering each hip. They are 90 percent effective in preventing hip fractures resulting from falls in women who wear them all the time. The hip pads are available at The Take Care Store.