Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones to the point where they break easily—most often in the hip, spine, and wrist. Osteoporosis is more common in women, but men also have this disease.
The good news is there are things you can do at any age to prevent weakened bones, such as including regular weight-bearing exercise in your life, eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, stopping smoking, and limiting how much alcohol you drink.
Your bones and muscles will be stronger if you are physically active. Weight-bearing exercises, done three to four times a week, are best for preventing osteoporosis. Walking, jogging, playing tennis, and dancing are examples of weight-bearing exercises. Try some strengthening and balance exercises too. They may help you avoid falls, which could cause a broken bone.
Exercise is safe for almost everyone. For people with arthritis, exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness. It can also help with losing weight, which reduces stress on the joints.
Flexibility exercises can help keep joints moving, relieve stiffness, and give you more freedom of movement for everyday activities. Examples of flexibility exercises include upper- and lower-body stretching, yoga, and tai chi.
Strengthening exercises will help you maintain or add to your muscle strength. Strong muscles support and protect joints. Weight-bearing exercises, such as weight lifting, fall into this category. You can use bottles of water or soup cans if you don’t have weights.
Endurance exercises make the heart and arteries healthier and may lessen swelling in some joints. Try low-impact options such as swimming and biking.
If you have a chronic condition, before beginning any exercise program, talk with your health care provider about the best activities for you to try.
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you can stick to your exercise routine when you’re on the road.
It may be easier to be active when you’re on vacation, but even on a business trip, it’s possible to squeeze in 30 minutes of physical activity some time during the day.
With a little planning, it can be easy to stay fit when you travel:
At times, almost everyone can use a personal cheerleader for encouragement, inspiration, and even celebration when they successfully meet their goal. Cheering on a friend or family member who wants to be more physically active can be a great way to show your support—and it’s easy to do.
Here are a few tips.
Proper form is a key part of injury prevention, especially with strength training.
If you are new to strength training or it’s been a while since you’ve done a particular exercise, talk with your health care provider to make sure that exercise is appropriate. If you’ve had hip or back surgery, talk about which exercises might be best for you.
Safety tips for strength exercises:
Living in a city offers many exciting activities—shopping, dining, work, and entertainment—just a short walk away. Walking also is great exercise, although it can be more challenging on busy streets.
Whether you’re walking for transportation or fitness, it’s important to be careful in urban areas. Serious pedestrian accidents occur more often in urban than in rural areas.
Go4Life has safety tips for enjoying a walk in the city:
Research has shown that the benefits of exercise go beyond just physical wellbeing. Exercise helps support emotional and mental health. So next time you’re feeling down, anxious, or stressed, try to get up and start moving!
Physical activity can help:
- Reduce feelings of depression and stress, while improving your mood and overall emotional well-being.
- Increase your energy level.
- Improve sleep.
- Empower you to feel more in control.
It’s important for your body to have plenty of fluids each day. Water helps you digest your food, absorb nutrients, and then get rid of the unused waste.
With age, some people may lose their sense of thirst. To further complicate matters, some medicines might make it even more important to have plenty of fluids.
Drinking enough fluids every day also is essential if you exercise regularly. Check with your doctor, however, if you’ve been told to limit how much you drink.
Go4Life has the following tips:
- Try to add liquids throughout the day.
- Take sips from a glass of water, milk, or juice between bites during meals.
- Have a cup of low-fat soup as an afternoon snack.
- Drink a full glass of water if you need to take a pill.
- Have a glass of water before you exercise or go outside to garden or walk, especially on a hot day.
- Remember, water is a good way to add fluids to your daily routine without adding calories.
- Drink fat-free or low-fat milk, or other drinks without added sugars.
- If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly and in moderation. That means up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks for men.
- Don’t stop drinking liquids if you have a urinary control problem. Talk with your doctor about treatment.
For more ideas on healthy eating, read What’s on Your Plate? Smart Food Choices for Healthy Aging.
NIA Tipsheet: https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/tip-sheets/drinking-enough-fluids
One way to get started is to talk with your doctor about the exercises and physical activities that are best for you. If you have a specific health issue that you are concerned about, ask your doctor for some tips to help you exercise safely.
Here are some questions to consider: