Bones and cold weather don’t seem to go together very well according to myths and sayings. Can you really feel rainy days in your bones or be ‘chilled to the bone’?
Let’s face it, when the days become shorter and the weather more inclement, we can find ourselves stuck indoors more. It’s hardly surprising any health issues or niggles seem more prevalent.
So, whilst we can’t change the weather or increase the daylight, we can take positive steps to give our brain, body and bones a boost.
Here are seven simple and straightforward things you can do to winterproof your bones.
1) Feed your body with the right things
For optimum bone health your body needs plenty of nutrient-rich food. It’s commonly accepted we need vitamin D and calcium for strong bones. But also make sure you’re getting plenty of protein, collagen, vitamin C, prebiotics and vitamin K. A healthy diet should provide enough and these recipes, created by registered nutritionist Christine Bailey, are a great place to start. Quite apart from them being nutritionally sound, trying out new recipes and spending time being creative in the kitchen can be rewarding and even therapeutic.
2) Take a vitamin D supplement
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, but due to limited exposure to the sun during the autumn and winter seasons, your body cannot get enough vitamin D. This causes bones to become weaker. Vitamin D supplements are readily accessible and relatively inexpensive. Always stick to the recommended dosage.
And whilst mentioning the importance of exposure to sunlight to the health of your bones, you must always be careful to protect your skin from the power of the sun’s rays. Always wear suncream and do not expose your skin to long periods of sunlight when the sun is strong. Having healthy bones is very important, but it can’t be at the expense of the health of your skin.
3) Cut back on caffeine
Consumption of caffeine can hinder the absorption of calcium by the body. This can result in unhealthy bones due to insufficient calcium reaching them. Look to reduce your caffeine intake – and add milk to your coffee for healthier results!
4) Drink plenty of water
As we’ve mentioned what you’re drinking it seems sensible to reinforce a very basic rule for staying healthy – keeping hydrated. That doesn’t mean having a drink once you’re feeling thirsty; by then it’s too late as your body will already be experiencing levels of dehydration. Sipping water at regular intervals throughout the day is a must. And if you exercise, make sure you drink more to replace what you have lost through perspiration.
5) Exercise a little and often
For many people, physical activity levels diminish during the winter season which can make bones feel more stiff and weak. Keeping the body physically active can keep the bones functional and flexible, thereby making them stronger and healthier. Make sure you exercise regularly by walking at a good pace, running, playing sports or dancing. Why not hook up with a friend to make it more fun – and to ensure you both show up!
Remember to do some resistance exercise too – using the weight of your own body. Performing lunges, squats, press ups and holding a plank are a good place to start. You might also want to pick up some dumbbells to add a bit more variety and challenge. Check out our blog here for more ideas… A word of warning! It’s important to get some professional instruction in how to perform these exercises properly and safely, especially if you’re new to lifting weights. Seeking out your local gym will be a very good place to start if you are new to exercise. They will have experts who will work with you to show you how to exercise safely and make it enjoyable.
6) Sit and stand tall
Sitting in one place for a prolonged period of time can, and will, cause stiffness in the body. Make sure you keep your body in the right posture and avoid slouching or bending. Keeping your back straight and bones nicely aligned can help improve bone health. If you are in any doubt, consult your GP or a personal trainer at your local gym who will give you very clear guidance.
7) Sleep well – nature’s remedy
The body undergoes an array of healthy processes during sleep, including bone remodelling, during which old tissue is removed and new bone tissue is formed.
Getting five or fewer hours of sleep a night is associated with low bone mineral density (BMD) and higher odds of osteoporosis according to a study, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. Women who reported sleeping no more than five hours per night had significantly lower bone mineral density in their hip, neck and spine when compared to women who slept seven hours a night.
Poor sleep is also linked to a number of adverse health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. So, by getting some decent shut-eye each night you will benefit your whole body as well as your bones!