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Improve Your Bone Health

Osteoporosis is no longer considered an old person's disease. At age 40 bone mass begins to dramatically decrease. The good news? Simple lifestyle changes you make now can keep your skeleton strong.

By Jane Bianchi

The Dynamic Duo

Calcium and vitamin D are the dream team that helps prevent osteoporosis and debilitating fractures. Found in dairy products, the mineral calcium increases bone density, while vitamin D, which the body produces in response to sunlight, helps with calcium absorption. Unfortunately, most women don't get enough of either nutrient, so ask your doctor about supplements. Experts recommend a daily dose of 1,000 to 1,400mg of calcium and 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D.

The Perfect Pairing

By forcing your skeleton to work harder, weight-bearing exercises help strengthen your bones, says Deena Goodman, a physical therapist in Los Angeles. So in addition to trying to squeeze in 30 minutes of walking on most days, do these easy exercises three times a week.

Sit-to-Stand

Sit upright in a chair, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Push your heels into the floor and stand up slowly, back straight, without using your arms. Stand for one second, then gradually lower your body back to the sitting position (again, no hands). Repeat this simple up-and-down motion 10 times.

Step Up

Standing, place your right foot on a curb, the bottom step of a staircase, or a sturdy footstool. Then lift your left foot onto the step too. Step back down, leading with your left foot. Repeat 10 times, then do 10 reps starting with your left foot.

A Couple of Snacks

Lean proteins and whole grains are key to a healthy diet, but they're usually highly acidic—and excess acid breaks down bone. To maintain a balance, bulk up on fruits and veggies, which contain alkaline compounds (the opposite of acids). Get two of your five daily servings by making the following easy, delicious recipes. Try 1/2 cup of the fruit as a midmorning snack and 1/2 cup of the veggies to ward off late-afternoon munchies.

Fresh fruit salad with pomegranate syrup

Makes 8 cups
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes

 
Grilled vegetables with red pepper sauce

Makes 6 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Grill: 12 minutes per batch
Cook: 5 minutes

 

Originally published in the May 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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