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Easy-to-follow bone health tips

January 10, 2014

Maintaining healthy bones plays a significant role in active senior living, but as many as 52 million Americans experience pain and discomfort caused by osteoporosis. In fact, approximately one-half of women (and one-quarter of men) over 50 will break a bone as a result of the condition. Luckily, there are many ways seniors can take a proactive role in making sure their bones stay healthy during retirement, according to The Huffington Post. 

Leafy green vegetables
It's no secret that some vegetables, such as kale and spinach, are staples of healthy aging, but while most people recognize their benefits for cardiovascular health and cancer prevention, they may not realize that eating leafy green vegetables is a great way to maintain bone health. These benefits exist thanks in large part to the high quantity of calcium they contain, but those foods also strengthen bones thanks to the presence of vitamin K, which can increase bone density and reduce the risk of fractures, The Huffington Post notes.

Get plenty of exercise 
Physical activity can help seniors maintain their health in seemingly every area, whether it be brain health or heart function. This extends to the bones, and maintaining an exercise regimen well into retirement is certainly a smart move. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are two types of exercises in particular that are crucial to maintaining strong bones. The first is weight-bearing exercise, and can take many different forms, whether seniors would like to go dancing, play tennis or focus on walking. The other, muscle-strengthening exercise, may be a bit more intimidating, but there are plenty of varieties, including using electric exercise bands or one's own body weight.

Get outside
Vitamin D is closely associated with bone health, and one of the best ways to get this hard-to-find nutrient is to spend time in the sun. Even just five to 10 minutes of sun exposure three days a week is enough to keep bones from becoming brittle and weak, the National Institutes of Health suggests. Additionally, not only will getting outside improve seniors' bone health, it could also boost their mental health. According to a 2010 post in the Harvard Health Letter, light has the tendency to elevate people's moods. Furthermore, people who spend more time outdoors tend to be more physically active, which also increases happiness.