Taking Care of our Bones in the Cold Winter Months
Taking care of our bones, especially if you suffer from Osteoarthritis, is even more critical during the cold winter months.
Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis and is characterized by chronic degeneration of the cartilage of the joints. Cartilage is the tissue that covers and cushions the ends of the bones in a joint and as we get older, as we have more wear and tear on them, the tissues break down. Visit our page dedicated to Osteoarthritis.
Osteoporosis is a challenge, especially when frigid cold air during the winter months increases joint pain, arthritis, tight muscles, etc. I know for me personally, during the winter months my muscles become tighter and my knees begin to ache more.
So what do we do to provide a healthy balance within our bones to help offset Osteoporosis?
Tamara J. Karr, Ph.D. states, “The cumulative effects of inactivity, impaired parathyroid function, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies over the years lead to osteoporosis.” Therefore, we must look deeper into those avenues.
Movement and the sunshine, not medication, will help prevent brittle bones.
So, how do we incorporate sunshine and movement during winter months?
Did you know those with osteoporosis have been shown to have lower levels of vitamin D than people of similar age without osteoporosis? It’s obvious during the winter months most of us are vitamin D deficient because we are not out soaking up the sun as we do in other seasons.
Vitamin D is essential because it helps to absorb calcium and put it in the bones.
- Spend time outside. Even if it is just a few minutes. (Pray, meditate, read, exercise or even drink a cup of hot tea)
- Eat foods containing Vitamin D (fatty fishes, egg yolk, cod liver oil, to name a few)
- Take a supplement
- Use a Vitamin D Therapy Lamp (See study below)
While foods and artificial sun lamps may help, your best bet is to brave the cold for a few minutes each day and soak up some rays. On those dreary days when the sun is nowhere to be seen, look into taking a supplement.
Current studies show that inactive elderly women with osteoporosis can regain 15 percent of bone mass by engaging in mild weight-lifting exercise three days per week. Bone support medications have an efficacy of 6 percent. Great news, right?
Grab some weights and lift them while watching television or listening to an audiobook or podcast. We love these adjustable hand weights.
Movement is important to help alleviate pain. (Read More) The cold brisk air and snow/ice can also cause more individuals to be susceptible to falls and fractures so you need to be extra careful.
I have recently joined a Pilates studio and absolutely love it. I have never stepped foot in a gym, it’s just not my cup of tea. I also felt intimidated not knowing what I was doing in a gym and had no desire to try. Sure, you could hire a personal trainer but not everyone can afford that type of service.
Pilates is easy on your joints and works well with for those challenged with osteoporosis. Also, the movements can be modified if it’s too challenging.
The important thing is to find something you enjoy or you likely won’t doo it. Even if it’s light gardening or walking slowly around the block, both of these include natural vitamin D from the sunshine.
Just remember, movement–of any kind–is key.
Please do not get discouraged if you have setbacks. I continue to have setbacks all the time and that’s ok! It’s about taking the next positive steps forward—making little choices that matter.
Post by Kalina Montefour
Other posts you may like:
Karr, Tamara J. PhD. (2018). Osteoporosis & Elderly Health. Our Journey With Food (p. 305-321). Summerland Publishing.
Waller Wellness Center. (2013, November 11). 10 Ways to Prevent or Reverse Osteoporosis.
Study: UV rays from an artificial sun lamp can help improve vitamin D levels.