Bones. We’ve all got them. We all need them. Yet few people know that it’s as important to look after your bone health as your muscle and heart health.
With osteoporosis causing death in one in five elderly people who sustain a hip fracture due to a fall, make no bones about it, it’s a very good idea to start looking after your skeleton pronto.
From the age of around 35, bone density starts to decrease, and the rate at which it decreases picks up the older we get. Women's bone density decreases at a faster rate than men's, and in America 80% of people with osteoporosis are women.
In the UK, about one in three people over 65, and half of people over 80, fall each year in the UK. Half of all women and one in five men over 50 will break a bone, typically in the wrist, hip and spine, as a result of osteoporosis.
So, don’t wait until there’s a problem to start looking after your bone health. The things you do in your younger years can go a long way to helping avoid brittle bones. And it's never too late to start making a difference.
As leading bone and joint expert Professor Anthony Woolf says: "Physical activity and exercise can turn back the clock on some of the losses in bone strength caused by age and disease “.
So what can you do? Here are four secrets that’ll keep your bones strong, and could even save your life.
Many of us now spend a huge amount of time each day sitting down, which can speed up the rate at which your bone density decreases.
To counteract this, the skeletal system needs weight-bearing exercise which provides jolts in order to strengthen it. This can be in the form of anything from running, to trampolining and of course, climbing the stairs.
Whilst upward stair journeys burn more calories, downward journeys are best for strengthening your bones - so ditch the lift and take the stairs to invest in your future health. You can track your daily workout on the stairs and measure your progress by downloading the free StepJockey smartphone app.
Eat right for a healthy skeleton
Our bones contain large amounts of calcium, which helps to make them firm and rigid.
A healthy, balanced diet which includes lots of calcium will help to keep your bones strong. Cow’s milk is shown to have a high calcium content, but it’s important to include a variety of sources of calcium in your diet.
It might surprise you to learn that dark leafy greens - such as kale and broccoli - are also very high in calcium, and many breakfast cereals are also fortified with calcium (just watch the sugar levels!).
Soak up some vitamin D for better bones
Vitamin D is really important for good bone health, as it regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. We absorb most of our vitamin D through our skin from sunlight, so take every opportunity to soak it in.
Needless to say - make sure you wear sunscreen and don’t get sunburn!
Take steps to avoid falls
As we get older, we get more unsteady on our feet. As a result, we’re more likely to fall and, with older, less dense bones this may mean we suffer a broken leg, hip or arm.
Falls involving a broken bone are notoriously difficult to recover from. Research shows that half of older people never regain their former level of function after a hip fracture, and one in five dies within three months.
Older people with balance problems, such as those caused by Parkinson’s disease, need to stay steady around the home. The local council may be able to give you grab rails to help you stay independent. And remember: always hold the bannister when going up and down the stairs to help avoid accidents!
StepJockey is a simple but effective way to make stair climbing a lasting healthy habit.Contact us today - we love to talk!