Elderly couple using kettle bells
Ohio Life | Live Well Ohio

Live Well Ohio: May 2021

Here is how to keep your bones strong as you age. Plus, use theses strategies to encourage the kids in your life to get outside after a year of being stuck at home. 

Staying Strong
As we age, brittle bones can increase the risk of fracture and create larger long-term problems. Here’s what you can do to maintain bone mass. 

More than 10 million Americans deal with osteoporosis, which causes bones to become brittle, leading to fracture and — in some cases — loss of quality of life. Women 65 and over (and men 70 and older) should get an annual screening, but only a fraction follow through, according to Dr. Laura Ryan, a specialist in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Building peak bone mass begins at puberty and continues until one’s later 20s. Drinking milk coupled with physical activity is the most efficient way to build strong bones. During your 30s and 40s, physical activity can help maintain bone mass, and there is generally no reason to supplement, according to Ryan. What about research showing that caffeine reduces bone mass? 

“You can drink up to two full servings of caffeine per day and it is not detrimental,” Ryan says.

By age 50 to 60, you might need to supplement with calcium and vitamin D to help maintain existing bone mass. Post-menopausal women should get 1,000 mg of calcium per day, while post-menopausal women with osteopenia need 1,200 mg daily. (Taking more than 1,400 to 1,500 mg of calcium can increase the risk of kidney stones.) Ryan adds that 1,000 mg of vitamin D is needed daily after age 50 to improve calcium absorption.

Other ways to protect bone health includes avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Exercise is important, too. The National Osteoporosis Foundation suggests weight-bearing exercises three to four days per week. Ryan also advises core exercises to improve balance and avoid falls.

“Half of the story is doing what we can do to make bones stronger with calcium and vitamin D, along with some exercise,” Ryan says, “the other half of the story is not doing things that cause broken bones.”


Get Moving, Kids!
Encourage the screen-sequestered little ones in your life to get outside this summer for engaging exercise that does a body good.

Exercise is a lifeline for children, particularly when they learn from an early age that it is a vital component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. May brings National Physical Fitness & Sports Month — the perfect time to encourage kids to run, jump, skate, bike and play as temperatures rise and the days grow longer. 

“Shutdown is a big word, especially to kids who are naturally active,” says Jamie Broz, manager of sports medicine at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “After the shutdown, returning to being physically active was harder than before.”

Physical activity delivers an instant boost in mood, while improving sleep, sharpening focus and helping reduce the risk of chronic disease, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency offers an online Move Your Way activity planner to help set and track goals along with activity suggestions, be it jumping rope or making a backyard obstacle course. Broz adds these tips for encouraging the younger ones in your life to get active and have fun. 

Start Slow. Resist the urge to take on too much at first. The idea is to get outside and do anything physical to begin building good habits. “Try not to cram everything into a season that has been shortened, whether it’s organized sports or outdoor play,” Broz advises. 

Set Baseline Expectations. The recommended hour of physical activity per day can be broken up into 20- or 30-minute segments, which can be more palatable for kids. “Exercise is a prescription, just like homework,” Broz says. “Maybe you say, ‘Let’s do 20 jumping jacks,’ or, ‘Time to do an exercise class,’ and it can still be fun, but if it’s a required ‘course,’ they can prepare for it.” Pulling a child away from the screen is no easy feat, as most parents know. “Keep them on task with a list,” Broz adds. “Then it becomes part of the schedule.”

Go for Easy Wins. One thing we learned during the pandemic is that plans change. The same is true with making arrangements for outdoor activities or exercise-focused outings, according to Broz. “You may show up at a playground and there are ‘do not touch’ signs,” she says. “Prepare your child so they know if we can’t do this today, there is an alternative.” Broz suggests focusing on easy wins first, like hiking in a park or free play in the yard to maintain social distancing guidelines. “Outdoor activities are going to be your best bet,” she says.