Health wellness


by Adam Tolliday


Strong bones help us stand tall. They align our muscles and organs. Improve our appearance. And let us move through life easily. 

Strong bones have good mass and density. And while peak bone mass is established by about age 30, we can continue to strengthen and protect our bones throughout our lives.

The best ways to achieve strong bones are to stay active and keep nutrition and hormone levels in balance. Avoiding tobacco and limiting alcohol use helps too.

How to build your bones

“Use ‘em or lose ‘em” is true for bones as well as muscles.

Putting the right kind of stress on our bones — through weight-bearing or high-impact exercise — promotes new bone formation. Active people tend to have the strongest bones. Consider:

  • weight training
  • walking
  • hiking
  • jogging
  • climbing stairs
  • tennis
  • and dancing.


If you have low bone mass, joint pain or other conditions that rule out high-impact exercises, ask your doctor about gentler activities such as:

  • yoga
  • exercise bands
  • swimming
  • and biking.

They can strengthen your muscles and improve coordination and balance, helping you avoid falls and fractures.

If you’ve been inactive for a while, gradually increase your activity level. Consider cross-training to avoid overtaxing individual muscles or bones.


How to feed your bones

Eating a balanced diet – with plenty of variety – is one of the best ways to protect your bones from becoming weak or injured.

If you can, get key nutrients from food instead of supplements. Don’t eliminate any food categories you don’t have to.

We all know that calcium is a key mineral for our bones. Most adults should aim for 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Or, 1,200 mg a day for women after age 50 and men after age 70. It’s best to consume calcium-rich foods throughout the day.

Vitamin D is also essential, in part because it helps your body absorb calcium. Many of us are vitamin D deficient because we’re always indoors or covered by sunscreen.

Bones also need minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium and zinc, in addition to vitamins C, E and K and adequate amounts of protein.

Keeping your bones strong is one of the best things you can do to for whole-body health. No bones about it.

By Anikar Chhabra, M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at Mayo Clinic Arizona. (USAToday)