How to get healthier bones

Joan Timpson  |  August 1, 2013

As you age, bone health becomes increasingly important. Individuals with poor bone density or medical conditions such as osteoporosis are at much greater risk of hip fractures and other potentially serious injuries. Fortunately, it doesn't take radical lifestyle changes to start improving your bone health. Here are some tips on simple measures you can take to strengthen your bones and feel better in the process:

Get enough calcium

This one might seem rather obvious, but it's one of the most important things you can do to promote good bone density and overall skeletal health. Calcium is an essential nutrient that can be found in most dairy products. If you remember telling your children to finish their milk when they were younger, this advice certainly applies to you, as well! However, be sure to choose low fat milk whenever possible - too much fat can be harmful to your heart. Other great sources of calcium include orange juice and dark leafy greens like spinach and broccoli.

Quit smoking

Kicking the habit for good can have a range of health benefits including increased circulation and a lower risk of heart disease and lung cancer, but did you know that quitting smoking can also help you improve your bone health? Heavy or prolonged tobacco use can weaken the density of your bones, so giving up this bad habit is one of the best ways you can take steps to healthier bones. If you're finding it difficult to give up, talk to your pharmacist, as many products such as nicotine patches, gum and inhalers can help.

Exercise regularly

Even if you hate exercising, it's easy to stay in shape and take care of your bones. Moderate exercise, such as gentle walking, is believed to have a demonstrable health benefit. Don't worry - you don't need to join a gym or start taking dance classes (but it won't hurt if you do), as even walking for around half an hour three times a week is enough to help strengthen your bones and keep you in shape at the same time.

If you're worried about your bone health, see about having your bone density checked. Bone density tests are quick and easy to perform, and can be a reliable predictor of your future likelihood of developing serious conditions like osteoporosis.