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November 16, 2012

Remaining Active: Exercises to Protect Bone and Joint Health

Most of us older adults experience the occasional noisy joint when we move our bodies. While our bodies may seem to get noisier as we grow older, unless the sound is accompanied by pain or swelling, cracking backs and popping knees are simply part of the body’'s daily symphony. 

Snap, Crackle and Pop 

Those percussive sounds you hear when you bend your knee, crack your knuckles, or stretch your back are typically caused by: 

  • Gasses from the protective fluids surrounding the joint being sucked into and then explosively expelled from the joint, or
  • Tendons and ligaments gliding along their pathways within the joint. 

Creaky joints can also be caused by arthritis, bursitis, or tendinitis; and an audible snap may indicate a broken bone. But painful inflammation and swelling typically accompany these medical conditions, alerting you to call your doctor. 

How to Keep your Bones Healthy 

Keeping your bones strong and healthy is a lifelong commitment. The top three things that promote good bone health are: 

  1. Calcium. Remember when your mom told you to drink your milk to build strong bones? Mom was right. Milk is rich in the mineral calcium, bone’s building block. Because our bodies can'’t produce calcium, we must get it from our diet. Dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, and calcium-fortified foods are rich in calcium.
  2. Vitamin D. Because vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium, it is important to get plenty of vitamin D every day. Good sources of vitamin D include sunshine, saltwater fish (sardines, salmon, and tuna), egg yolks, liver, and fortified dairy and cereal products.
  3. Exercise. Regular physical activity is the third component to good bone health. Inactivity can take a toll on joints and muscles. Weight-bearing exercises stimulate bone growth and increase bone density. Making regular visits to the Kendal at Oberlin fitness center is a great way to keep your body healthy and your bones strong. 

For more ways to stay healthy, download our free guide: “Remaining Active: How to Begin a Regular Exercise Routine

Photo: elycefeliz

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