Time to strengthen your 45-64 bones

From 45 to 64 years old you start to, very gradually, lose bone density. This is especially relevant for women after the age of 45 when bone loss begins to increase to 1-2% per year, and even more rapidly once menopause begins. Making some positive changes to your diet and lifestyle now can help to maintain your bone health for the future. So, here’s how you can help maintain strong bones.

Eat calcium-rich foods

Women and men over 40 should be aiming for 1000mg of calcium daily, which can be achieved by consuming two serves of dairy products or calcium-fortified milk substitutes, and half a cup of canned salmon containing soft edible bones which are rich in calcium. Other calcium-rich foods include green leafy vegetables, almonds, brazil nuts and unhulled tahini. You could also consider a calcium supplement to help meet your daily calcium needs.

Consider a Vitamin D supplement

Most people in Australia can get enough Vitamin D through sensible sunlight exposure. However, a Vitamin D supplement may be helpful for those who are at risk of low Vitamin D levels due to limited sun exposure.

Quit smoking

Smokers are known to have lower bone density than non-smokers.

Moderate caffeine and alcohol intake

To maintain bone health, consume no more than two to three cups of cola, tea and coffee and no more than two standard alcoholic beverages, a day.

Have a bone density test

Men and women over 50 with a family history of osteoporosis, who are on certain medication, or have other risk factors, should consult their healthcare professional for a bone density scan.

Exercise to build bone strength

Exercise is a key component for maintaining bone strength and minimising bone loss, as you grow older. The ability for exercise to build and strengthen bone is known as its ‘osteogenic capacity’, and the most osteogenic activities include weight bearing and resistance exercise. To maintain better bone density, include 30 minutes of the following osteogenic exercises four to six times a week.

Weight‐bearing exercise – Activities where your feet and legs support your body weight place stress on the bones, forcing them to work harder. Weight‐bearing exercise includes brisk walking, jogging, hiking, tennis, netball, basketball, dancing, impact aerobics, stair climbing and jumping rope.

Resistance (strength) training – When muscles pull on the bones during resistance training, it stimulates the bone to increase its mass. Resistance training includes exercises that use targeted muscle groups to lift and lower moderate to heavy weights. They could be machine‐based, for example, using a leg press, seated rower or pull‐down, or free weights such as dumbbells.