Help keep your bones healthy

It’s Healthy Bones Action Week (17-23 August 2020) and NT Health is encouraging Territorians to do weight exercises, get out in the sun and consume diary to help keep their bones healthy.

Royal Darwin Hospital Physiotherapist Erin Pechey said looking after your bones is important to keep them strong and healthy.

“Territorians of all ages are encouraged to take three simple actions to build and maintain healthy bones: eat dairy, exercise and get safe sun exposure,” Ms Pechey said.

Poor bone health affects 2 in 3 Australians and can lead to serious fractures which can cause chronic pain, disability and loss of independence.

“Looking after your bones will reduce aches and pains, as well as your risk of fractures and even osteoporosis (brittle bones). Strong bones are key to leading long, healthy, active and independent lives,” Ms Pechey said.

“Calcium is super important for strong bones and healthy teeth with the easiest way to increase daily serves through dairy such as milk, cheese or yoghurt.”

“Most of us need at least two-and-a-half to four serves of milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives each day. A serve of dairy equals a cup (250ml) of milk, two slices (40g) of cheese or a tub (200g) of yoghurt.”

“Calcium needs increase during different life stages such as teenage years and in later years (women over 50 years old and men over 70 years old). It’s absolutely crucial to make an effort to get in the dairy foods you need to stay healthy and have strong bones all your life.”

Some easy ways to up your calcium:

  • Snack on cheese and whole grain crackers
  • Pour some custard over fruit for a wholesome dessert
  • Enjoy a milky latte or cappuccino
  • Add ricotta or feta cheese to your salads
  • Enjoy a delicious smoothie by blending together your favourite fruits with yoghurt and milk
  • Dollop yoghurt on top of curries or in soup
  • Enjoy salmon and green leafy vegetables for dinner
  • Grate some cheese into your omelettes, pasta and vegetable dishes

Ms Pechey said exercise was important for building strong bones when younger as well as maintaining bone health when older.

“Many people are probably already aware that exercise can improve our muscle strength and reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases including cardiovascular disease and stroke. Exercise benefits our bones in a similar way to our muscles!

“Weight bearing and strengthening exercises can also prevent bone loss and strengthen our bones. This can include walking, jogging, hiking, jumping and tennis,” Ms Pechey said.

“Falls in the elderly population are a common cause of fracture. Exercise and strong bones can help to reduce the severity or prevent injuries sustained from falls.

“If you’re a parent, being active together as a family outdoors not only teaches kids healthy lifestyle habits, but is the ideal time to get vitamin D from safe sun exposure – also important for building and maintaining strong bones.

“We need a few minutes a day of sun exposure to an area of skin such as the face, arms and hands to help with our vitamin D levels,” Ms Pechey said.

For further advice contact your GP or an accredited physiotherapist or nutritionist.

Source: NT Government