October is a month of skeletons lurking about for Halloween. And it’s not a coincidence that last week was Bone and Joint Action Week! No matter how old you are, it is never too early to take care of your bones and joints.
The goal of Bone and Joint Action Week is to bring attention to arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, and trauma to increase prevention, disease management, and treatments. Did you know that more than half the American population over the age of 18 are affected by musculoskeletal conditions?! If you are a part of this statistic, you can understand how painful, debilitating, or annoying these conditions can be depending on their severity. Follow these tips to keep your bones and joints functioning at their best!
Let’s start with nutrition. Osteoporosis can be prevented by being attentive to your calcium and Vitamin D intake. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in your body is in your teeth and bones so it’s no wonder it’s so important for healthy bone function. You’ve heard all along that drinking milk will give you strong bones and it’s true! Calcium helps with bone growth, maintenance, and function. Other good sources of calcium can be found in other dairy products like low fat yogurt and cheese, as well as dark green vegetables like broccoli and kale. It can also be found in calcium-fortified foods like orange juice, cereal, bread, soy beverages, tofu, and nuts. So make sure you incorporate some of these foods in your diet on a daily basis.
Looking for a snack? A bowl of low-fat Greek yogurt with some granola, berries, and chopped nuts is the perfect option to load you up with some calcium. Don’t forget about the kids! My parents used to make me drink a glass of milk every night with dinner and I do the same for my girls now. It’s especially important for children to get good amounts of calcium as their bodies and bones are still growing.
Vitamin D is equally as important as it’s needed for your body to absorb the calcium. Vitamin D can come from three different sources: food, supplements, and sunlight. Natural sources of Vitamin D include fish and egg yolks. Plenty of foods are fortified with vitamin D as well, including: milk, some yogurts, breakfast cereals, soy beverages, and orange juice.
Getting Vitamin D from sunlight varies from person to person. Your skin makes Vitamin D from the sunlight, but it is dependent on time of day, latitude, season, and skin pigmentation. Regardless of those variables, you should always try to get outside every day, especially on the sunny days.
This brings me right into my next topic: exercise. So, while you’re outside getting your Vitamin D, go for a brisk walk! Regular exercise is so important for optimal bone and joint function. To keep them working, you have to use them! Just 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week will do the trick. It can be anything: yoga, running, swimming, weight lifting, or even dancing! Not only is exercise good for good bone and joint function but it also helps with mental/ emotional wellness and your general well-being.
Follow these simple tips to love your bones and you will be happier and pain-free for years to come!