Habits To Break: Unhealthy Behaviors For Your Bones

Be good to your bones and they’ll be good to go for years to come. Sounds easy enough, right? Actually, you could be damaging your bones without even knowing it. Here are five harmful behaviors—from super-bad to not-so-terrible—along with tips for doing the right thing.

Being Sedentary
How bad? 5
Leading an inactive lifestyle is the worst thing you can do to your bones, says Chad Krueger, M.D., a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Like your muscles, if you don’t use your bones they start to become weaker,” he explains.

To keep ’em strong, get moving. Aerobic activity like walking, biking or gardening is good exercise. Strength-training activities are important, too, but you don’t have to be a bodybuilder. Try push-ups, sit-ups, squats or simply walking up and down stairs.

“The more active you can be, the stronger your bones will get and, hopefully, you can avoid the risk of injury down the road,” Krueger says. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Need help to get moving, schedule a fitness consult or personal training with our certified exercise physiologist at Gwinnett SportsRehab.

Poor Nutrition
How bad? 4
Eating an unhealthy diet isn’t good for any part of your body. If you don’t eat well, you may gain weight, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. And diabetes makes it harder to recover from fractures, according to Krueger.

Many folks don’t get enough of the nutrients, primarily calcium and vitamin D, that promote strong bones. To boost your calcium intake, eat more dairy products, kale, broccoli and calcium-enriched products such as cereal and orange juice. Foods high in vitamin D include milk, eggs, salmon and shrimp. Five to 10 minutes of sun exposure each day helps your body produce vitamin D, too.

“People don’t realize how important these nutrients are to bone health,” Krueger says. “Supplements can be helpful, too, but you absorb the nutrients from natural sources better than you do from a pill.”

Get a personalized nutrition plan for you and your family. The expert dietitians at the Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center can help you develop a plan to lose weight, maintain or simply clean up your eating habits. 

How bad? 4
Cigarette smoking is bad for your blood vessels, which supply nutrients to your bones (along with other organs in your body). As fewer nutrients get through, bones become weaker and, if you break one, healing is more diffiult, Krueger explains. Plus, smoking increases the rate of bone loss.

Attend a free smoking cessation class taught by certified staff. Click here to learn more.

Not Getting Regular CheckUps
How bad? 3
Without routine visits to your doctor, you might have an undiagnosed health condition, such as low calcium levels, that contributes to poor bone health. If you are older than 65, it’s important to ask your doctor about a bone density test. If you’ve broken a bone in your lifetime, you may need one sooner. If your bones are losing density, your healthcare professional can help halt or even reverse that trend with lifestyle recommendations and medication.

“Thinking you’re fine if you don’t do anything is a bad habit,” Krueger says. “Be proactive about taking good care of yourself.“

Drinking Soda 
How bad? 1
One thing’s for sure—drinking soda offers almost zero health benefits. But is it bad for your bones? There had been some concern that phosphoric acid, an ingredient in many kinds of soda, would decrease the amount of calcium available to your bones. “Some recent studies have come out that show that’s really not the case,” Krueger says.

Regardless, soda has a lot of empty calories. Drinking too much of it can lead to obesity, which is hard on your bones.

“A healthy lifestyle can make a big difference in the future of your health, including the health of your bones,” Krueger concludes. ­“A lot of the control is in your hands.”


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