Five things you need to remember this festive season
21 Dec 2017
With the festive season in full swing, make sure you remember these five key things for good bone health this winter.
1. Walking is good for you
We all know that exercise is good for us and, whatever your age, there’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you to lead a healthier and happier life. So, what better way to burn off those excess mince pies than by going for a brisk winter walk?
Weight-bearing exercise - like walking - helps to promote good bone health, so getting everyone outside for a festive walk is the perfect way to spend time as a family, maintain strong bones and enjoy your surroundings. You might even feel inspired to lace up your boots and take on The 206 Challenge for the National Osteoporosis Society.
Be sure to wear appropriate footwear when walking and choose places that aren’t too muddy to minimise the risk of slipping and falling. See our blog post for more ideas about how to get the most out of your family walks.
2. Be careful in cold weather
When the snow starts to fall, many of us can’t wait to get outside and enjoy the wintry wonderland. But cold weather can be hazardous and falls on snow and ice caused almost 3,000 hospital admissions between 2014 and 2015.
The consequences of these slips and falls can be more severe for those with osteoporosis: “Many people with osteoporosis are understandably concerned about falling and breaking bones, but there are positive steps that you can take to improve your balance,” says Sarah Leyland, Nurse Consultant at the National Osteoporosis Society.
“Part three of our booklet Exercise and Osteoporosis shows a number of exercises you can do at home in the warm to help strengthen muscles, improve stability and increase your confidence when out and about.”
If you're at risk of breaking a bone, stay inside where possible when it's icy and Public Health England recommends heating your home to at least 18°C in winter. As well as ensuring you look after yourself, look after older neighbours or relatives to make sure they are safe, warm and well. For more winter safety tips, head to the website of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
3. This year’s Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special is set to be more ‘fab-u-lous’ than ever
To celebrate the good that dance can do for bone health and the benefits of staying active in old age, The Duchess of Cornwall, President of the National Osteoporosis Society, recently hosted a tea dance at Buckingham Palace. The tea dance - which was filmed by the BBC to be aired during this year's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special - was attended by Strictly Come Dancing professional dancers and judges, eight lucky Charity members.
Our four couples - who are all keen dancers despite living with the effects of osteoporosis - had a fantastic time meeting the Duchess and dancing with the Strictly stars, including judge Craig Revel Horwood who is also an Ambassador for the National Osteoporosis Society.
So snuggle down on the sofa after your festive walk and tune in to BBC One at 6.30pm on Christmas Day to watch the special festive episode. For more information about how dancing is good for bone health, see our Dancing for Bones webpage.
4. We still need vitamin D during the winter months
In the bleak midwinter, the days are short and the nights draw in quickly, so our skin isn't able to produce any vitamin D.
It’s vital that we still get enough vitamin D - an essential vitamin for strong bones - all year round. Public Health England states that everyone should get 10 micrograms of the “sunshine vitamin” per day - through all the seasons - but, as sunlight only makes this vital vitamin in our skin from April to September, taking a supplement during the winter months can help to increase our intake to recommended levels. Find out more about vitamin D supplements on our factsheet.
In addition to supplements, you can also get some vitamin D from the food you eat. Find out more about the different foods that contain vitamin D.
5. Embrace the festive cheese platter
Did you know that our bodies contain around 1kg of calcium, 99% of which is found in our bones? This mineral is vitally important for teeth and bones because it gives them strength and rigidity.
You can usually get enough calcium as part of a healthy, balanced diet. One average portion of cheddar cheese contains around 200mg of calcium, so your festive cheese board could make a delicious contribution to your 700mg recommended daily intake of calcium; the amount suggested by government nutritionists to be sufficient for most adults.
If you don’t eat dairy products - or simply can’t bear the thought of looking at yet another truckle of cheese - you can get your mineral intake through other calcium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, almonds, dried fruit, tofu and pulses. Find out more about the different foods that contain calcium or see our leaflet.
As always, it is important to eat any food in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet.