You know how important it is to keep bones strong, but do you focus on it enough? Women over age 50 are at risk for osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones) thanks to declining estrogen levels. Luckily, it doesn’t take strenuous exercise, diet overhauls, or pricey prescription meds to get your bones in shape. Try these tips to strengthen bones the easy way!
Try a kettle dance.
Reaping the bone-strengthening benefits of a workout is as easy as hopping from one foot to another for three minutes a day while waiting for the tea kettle to heat up. British scientists say weight-bearing moves like this strengthen bones as effectively as osteoporosis drugs.
More good news: National Institutes of Health (NIH) experts say any form of strength and resistance exercise is beneficial for bones, even light resistance — so, grab some soup cans or water bottles for a few lightweight arm curls.
Toss in a magic handful of greens.
Mom was right — it’s important to eat your veggies. But you don’t have to devour tons of them to keep bones strong! A study in the Journal of Nutrition suggests eating half a cup of baby spinach a day (you won’t notice it tossed into a smoothie or chili) significantly improves bone health and reduces fracture risk. Its rich stores of vitamin K help the body better absorb bone-strengthening calcium. As an added bonus, leafy greens like spinach can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Savor mac ’n’ cheese.
Australian research reveals noshing on more foods rich in both calcium and protein — like cheese, milk and yogurt — strengthens bones to ward off fractures. In fact, scientists found that when older adults consumed the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) of calcium (1,300 milligrams) and protein (about 62 grams), the overall risk of fractures fell by 33 percent and hip fracture risk dropped by 46 percent. Bonus: Shoring up your stores of these nutrients helps maintain bone and muscle mass to reduce the risk of falls.
Supercharge your sleep.
A solid night’s rest does more than lift your mood: Norwegian scientists say clocking at least seven hours a night reduces osteoporosis risk by up to 52 percent, since sleep spurs the growth of bone-building cells. To get more shut-eye, take 3 to 5 milligrams of melatonin before bed. Danish research suggests the sleep hormone triggers bone-building cells to produce four times the amount of new bone!
Looking for a yummy, healthy brand to try? We like NutraChamps Vegan Melatonin Gummies, 5 milligrams per serving, pack of three (Buy from NutraChamps, $16.16). Or check out Nature’s Bounty Sleep Gummies, 3 milligrams per serving (Buy from Wallgreens, $9.49).
Note: Check with your healthcare provider before adding a supplement to your routine.
How To Make Creamy Twice-Baked Mac & Cheese
Dreaming of mac & cheese ever since we mentioned it? Try this warm and cheesy dish to boost your calcium and protein intake!
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and coat a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
- Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain it and let it cool.
- In a bowl, combine pasta with remaining ingredients and transfer to baking dish.
- Bake the mac & cheese for 45 minutes covered, then bake for 15 minuets uncovered. Enjoy!
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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.