Regardless of your family history, the way you live can significantly reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Dr. Bradley T. Tinkle, director of the Skeletal Dysplasia Center at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center, recommends the following ways to strengthen your bones:
- Exercise. Get moving on a local walking path, in the dance studio, garden or tennis courtanything that provides you with several hours of weight-bearing exercise a week. The pressure those activities puts on your bones helps strengthen them.
- Follow a calcium-rich diet. Beyond the obvious dairy foods, other good sources of calcium are whole grains; green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli; sardines with the bones; and fortified orange juice.
- Ask your doctor about
supplements. He or she may recommend you aim for at least 1,200 milligrams a day of calcium from food and supplements, and 800 to 1,000 international units of vitamin D.
- Quit smoking. In one study, smoking increased the risk of hip fracture 31 percent in women and 40 percent in men.
- Find out your family history. If osteoporosis is common in your family, talk with your doctor about additional steps you can take to reduce your risk, and about screening tests to monitor your bone density.