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Resolve To Have Healthy Bones

We have all been there. The start of a new year starts us thinking about ways to make some improvement to our health or wellbeing. All too often we make general statements of “Losing Weight”, “Increasing Strength”, or “Getting More Sleep”. But, in order to set yourself up for success you need to set “SMaRT” goals. SMaRT stands for specific, measurable, reasonable, and time-bound. In this article, we will apply these SMaRT goals to improved bone health. But first, let’s learn a bit more about the three areas that contribute to good bone health: exercise, diet, and lifestyle factors.

The Institute of Medicine recommends increasing physical activity to 30 minutes most days of the week. Weight-bearing activities such as walking, hiking, dancing, stair-climbing, and gardening help increase and maintain bone mass density. Yoga and Tai Chi are activities involving a lot of bending and stretching to help strengthen muscles in order to prevent falls and increase balance.

Consuming 3 servings of low-fat dairy products dairy or dairy alternatives will provide excellent sources of calcium, phosphorous, and protein are important for maintaining bone health. Important to note is that your body will absorb no more than 500mg of calcium at a time, so space out your calcium intake. If you are taking a calcium supplement be sure that it also contains Vitamin D, or take a Vitamin D supplement with your Calcium for improved absorption.

Several lifestyle factors decrease bone health such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and sleeping less than 7 hours. Of course, there are factors that you cannot control such as genetics.

An example of setting SMaRT goals for your bone health include the following:

¯ I will do weight-bearing activities 2 days a week for 30 minutes, and yoga for 30 minutes once a week.

¯ I will start including one 8 ounce glass of milk with dinner, and take a calcium plus Vit D supplement in the morning and before bed.

¯ I will go to bed at a reasonable time of 10 p.m., so I can be sure to get 7 hours of sleep each night.

Are these goals specific enough? Can they be measured, tallied, or tracked? Are they reasonable enough that I am not setting myself up for failure? For example, if your normal bed-time is midnight can you reasonably move your bedtime up to 10 p.m.? As for time-bound, if you normally do not exercise at all, you may want your goal to start more slowly like 10 minutes 3 days a week and increase as this becomes comfortable for you.

We know the healthy choice is not always the easiest choice, but small changes can make a big difference. Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services Dietitian, Carey Skelton RDN is available for nutrition education through SNAP-ed programs. The SNAP-ed programs are FREE for those who receive or qualify for SNAP benefits. We want to help you save time, save money, and eat healthy! Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services Senior Nutrition Program also provides nutritious meals through Home Delivered Meals and the Dining Out Program throughout the county. We also sponsor several exercise programs. Please remember to contribute toward your OFAS nutrition services if you can. These programs are not sustainable without the support of participant and community contributions. Be aware that SNAP benefits can be used toward your contribution. Call NY Connects at 716-453-4582 for more details and information about any of these Nutrition and Wellness programs provided by Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services.

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