How to Keep Your Skeletal System Healthy
The skeletal system provides support and structure to the body and serves to protect vital organs, such as your brain, heart and lungs. Working with muscles, the skeletal system assists in movement. While bones are hard, they can be broken and weakened if not cared for properly. A good diet and regular exercise will help keep your skeletal system strong and healthy.
Eat calcium-rich foods. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that men and women get at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day. This is especially true for people over age 40, when natural bone replacement slows down. Milk, cheese and other dairy products contain calcium. Broccoli, kale, sardines, salmon, Brazil nuts, almonds, oranges and calcium-fortified foods are good sources of calcium as well. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons indicates that getting 1,000 mg of calcium through diet alone may be difficult and therefore suggests a vitamin supplement as well.
Eat foods with vitamin D to assist in calcium absorption. Adults need 15 mcg of vitamin D a day. Foods with vitamin D include dairy, eggs, fatty fish such as salmon or tuna and fortified orange juice and cereal. Exposure to the sun triggers vitamin D synthesis to produce vitamin D, as well.
Perform at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise at least twice a week. Building muscle increases bone density to build healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis. You don't necessarily need weights or equipment to build muscle. Pushups, squats and planks strengthen muscles over most of the body. As you get stronger, using dumbbells increases the resistance to maintain your strength.
Avoid smoking and drinking. The MayoClinic.com reports that tobacco use and consuming more than two alcoholic drinks a day may contribute to weak bones and osteoporosis.
Discuss potential side effects of medication with your doctor. Some medicines can weaken bones and increase your risk of osteoporosis. Your doctor will be able to prescribe bone-boosting medication if needed.
Protect the body. Wear your seat belt when driving and a helmet when using a motorcycle. Use headgear when engaged in sports that could lead to brain damage such as football, in-line skating, bicycling and horseback riding.
- Hillendale Health: How Does the Skeletal System Help Us?
- The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: Healthy Bones at Every Age
- International Osteoporosis Foundation: Good Nutrition for Healthy Bones
- National Institutes of Health: Vitamin D
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- MayoClinic.com: Bone Health: Tips to Keep Your Bones Healthy
Leslie Truex has been telecommuting and freelancing since 1994. She wrote the "The Work-At-Home Success Bible" and is a career/business and writing instructor at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Truex has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Willamette University and a Master of Social Work from California State University-Sacramento. She has been an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified fitness instructor since 2001.