Most men achieve peak bone mass in their 30s after which there is gradual decline in bone density, although at a slower rate as compared to women. However, by age 60 both men & women experience the same rate of bone loss. The problem of osteoporosis (weak bones) in men is becoming more significant as advances in healthcare are enabling men and women to live longer and more active lives.
As June is Men’s Health Month, here are some tips to protect your bones and joints while staying active as you age:
- Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption: Smoking increases the inflammatory response of the body making it harder to recover from microtrauma to the bones and joints caused by vigorous physical activity. Heavy drinking weakens the bones and can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Men should have no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day.
- Lose excess weight: Your weight bearing joints must withstand 3 to 4 times your body weight when walking or running. Losing even a small amount of weight can make a big different to the amount of stress placed on your joints with routine everyday activity.
- Exercise regularly: This will keep the muscles that surround and support your joints strong as well as improve bone density. However, avoid any activity that causes joint pain. Switching from high impact activities such as basketball, soccer or jogging to low impact activities such as swimming, using the elliptical machine, water aerobics, and cycling to protect your joints may be a good idea as you get older.
- Always remember to warm up and cool down: A simple 5-minute warmup routine before physical activity will limber up the joints and reduce risk of injury. Some light stretching afterwards will help you relax, remove the accumulated lactic acid from the muscles, and help you recover faster.
- Avoid adding too much salt to your food: Studies have demonstrated that high salt intake can draw the calcium out of your bones making them brittle and can increase susceptibility to bone fractures.
- Get enough sunlight: Your body needs at least 15-20 minutes of sunlight every day to produce enough vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium from the food you eat, but don’t overdo it. Too much time in the sun can increase your risk of getting skin cancer.
- Drink plenty of water: About 80% of your cartilage is made of water. If you don’t stay adequately hydrated, your body will pull out water from cartilage and other tissues weakening your joints.
When it comes to joint health, prevention is the preferred method to keep you feeling your best. The above-mentioned tips will help protect your joints from injury while keeping you healthy and active.
Dr. Patrick Denard has been voted one of the top 20 Shoulder Surgeons in North America and is the most widely published shoulder specialist in Oregon. Dr. Denard is committed to providing the highest level of Orthopedic care to his patients. Dr. Denard has advanced arthroscopy training and is able to perform the vast majority of shoulder procedures in a minimally invasive fashion, including all types of rotator cuff repairs and instability repair. These techniques allow him to repair tears that some consider "irreparable." Providing every patient with advanced medicine and compassionate care each and every time.