10 Ways to Lower Your Bone Fracture Risk

by PJ Hamel Patient Expert

Many fractures in older people — especially in the hip, spine, and wrist — are related to osteoporosis. And fractures aren’t just painful, but they can cause you to lose your valuable independence, too. Here’s how to help prevent and avoid broken bones as you age.

Foods rich in calcium.
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Get enough calcium and vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D work together to help keep aging bones strong. Try to get 1200 milligrams of calcium and 600-800 international units of vitamin D daily, according to Harvard Health. You can get these amounts through a combination of diet and supplements.

A teaspoon of salt.
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Lessen your salt intake

Eating foods high in salt (sodium) can cause you to lose calcium, which is key for strong bones, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Keep sodium intake to under 2300 milligrams daily, which is the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon of salt.

Balancing in an exercise class.
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Maintain good balance to reduce the risk of falls

Falls are a chief cause of broken bones, and good balance can help prevent falls. Try balance-building exercise classes like yoga and tai chi. Or simply balance on one leg for as long as you can, several times a day.

Multicolored pills of different shapes.
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Drugs can help

If you’ve been diagnosed with bone loss, there are many different osteoporosis drugs that may help strengthen your bones and prevent fractures. Ask your doctor which one is right for you.

Man holding on to a wooden handrail.
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Use the handrail on stairs

Going up and down stairs can be a challenge when eyesight and balance are both failing. Avoid falls — use the handrail, both going up and going down.

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'Fall-proof' your house

Loose rugs, slippery floors, trailing electrical cords, clutter on the floor — all can cause you to trip and fall. Identify and correct any problem areas around your house.

Mature adults jogging together.
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Stay strong through continued exercise

Exercise is crucial for maintaining strength, balance, and flexibility as you age — don’t become sedentary! Walking is a great place to start, according to American Bone Health; ask your doctor what else is appropriate for you.

Senior tying shoelaces on sneakers.
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Dress and accessorize to prevent falls

No, this doesn’t mean wearing body armor! But wear shoes (and slippers) with good-grip soles. And keep your hands free by carrying a shoulder bag or fanny pack, rather than a handbag.

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Pause after standing up

Certain drugs, as well as low blood pressure, can cause a temporary loss of balance if you stand up quickly. To prevent potential falls, try this: Stand, pause, then walk.

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Use nightlights

Last but not least, keep in mind that many falls happen at night, when darkness and sleepiness can cause you to trip on furniture you’d avoid during the daytime. Make sure your paths to the bathroom and kitchen are well-lit.

PJ Hamel
Meet Our Writer
PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel is senior digital content editor and food writer at King Arthur Flour, and a James Beard award-winning author. A 16-year breast cancer survivor, her passion is helping women through this devastating disease. She manages a large and active online survivor support network based at her local hospital and shares her wisdom and experience with the greater community via HealthCentral.com.