The 8 worst habits for your bones as you age

As you age, your bones experience wear and tear as they endure more of your daily activities. According to the National Council on Aging, maintaining strong bones becomes more important as you age because lower bone density can lead to osteoporosis and increase the risk of bone fractures. Although research shows that regular exercise like jogging and strength training can boost your bone health, certain daily habits can counteract these benefits and wreak havoc. your bone. That’s why we were talking to Laura Purdy, MD, MBAa board-certified family physician in Fort Benning, Georgia, who discusses the 8 worst habits for your bones as you age.

If these bad habits sound familiar, don’t worry, it’s never too late to start prioritizing your bone health. Whether you’re in your 30s, 40s or beyond, these insights can help you maintain skeletal strength and resilience. And while you can’t turn back time, you can certainly steer your lifestyle in a bone-friendly direction. Keep reading to learn more about the not-so-friendly habits that can weaken your bones and learn how to maintain excellent bone health as you age. Then check out the 5 best Mediterranean lifestyle tips for a longer, healthier life.


According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), calcium is important for your bones, and not getting enough can weaken your bones over time. Incorporating dairy products like yogurt, milk and cheese can help you meet your daily calcium needs. “Make sure you are consuming a diet that includes milk and other dairy products, fish, orange juice, green vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit,” advises Purdy.

Calcium deficiency can lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, which causes bones to become brittle and break easily. However, according to the Cleveland Clinic, achieving balance is essential, as excessive calcium intake through supplements can adversely affect your health.

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different types of salt

Studies show that high sodium intake can lead to calcium loss from bones, weakening them. Pay attention to your salt intake by reducing processed foods and instead seasoning your meals with herbs and spices. Also, focus on consuming potassium-rich foods like bananas, oranges and potatoes, as potassium helps your body excrete excess sodium, which can improve bone health. “Avoid consuming too much salt in your diet because salt weakens bones,” Purdy warns.

fitness concept

Physical activity, especially weight-bearing exercises like walking or lifting weights, is important in building and maintaining bone density. When you engage in these activities, research shows your bones adapt by becoming stronger and denser, which can reduce your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

“Not being physically active and physically active enough can harm your bones,” says Purdy. Even walking daily will have a positive impact on your bone health.” Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly, such as brisk walking, dancing or cycling.

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Mature woman sitting on laptop at age 60 on couch

A sedentary lifestyle can negatively affect bone health, reducing bone density and strength. Prolonged sitting time, such as doing office work or spending too much time in front of a screen, can increase the risk of bone-related problems, along with other health problems. Purdy emphasized: “Sitting for long periods of time and not going out will affect bone health and mobility.”

To combat this, make a conscious effort to break up long periods of sitting with short bursts of movement throughout the day. Simple activities like standing, stretching or walking for a few minutes every hour can help improve blood circulation and reduce the negative effects of prolonged sitting.

Red wine is poured

“Drinking too much alcohol interferes with calcium absorption, preventing the absorption of the good minerals you consume, so your bones become weaker,” explains Purdy. Calcium is an important mineral that provides the structural foundation for your bones.

To support your bone health, it is essential to drink alcohol in moderation if you choose to drink alcohol. For women, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends up to one drink per day and for men, up to two drinks per day.

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Soft drink

Some studies show that high levels of phosphoric acid in soda may increase calcium excretion from the body, potentially weakening bones over time and leading to fractures. “Drinking too many carbonated drinks may quench your thirst but doesn’t provide your body with nutrients,” says Purdy.

To support your bone health, consider reducing your intake of sugary and carbonated drinks. Instead, choose healthier beverages like water, herbal tea, or calcium-fortified alternatives like fortified plant-based milk or orange juice. These options provide hydration and essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, which are important for bone strength and overall health.

Cigarettes in the ashtray.

A 2021 study revealed that toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke can disrupt normal bone regeneration, leading to bone loss and making bones fragile. “Tobacco use can lead to bone fractures because it is a hormone disruptor,” Purdy explains. Additionally, smoking reduces blood flow to bones, which can contribute to bone weakness. While quitting smoking is certainly challenging, it’s important to protect your bones and reduce your risk of fractures.

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Calorie dialing concept

“Not consuming enough calories can cause its own set of complications because you have less bone mass as you get older,” says Purdy. Not providing the body with enough calories can lead to weakened bones because bones need a constant supply of nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and protein to maintain health. To protect your bone health, it’s important to aim for a balanced diet that provides enough calories to support your bones and overall health.

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