The skeletal system provides support and structure to the body and serves to protect vital organs, such as your brain, heart and lungs. Working with muscles, the skeletal system assists in movement. While bones are hard, they can be broken and weakened if not cared for properly. A good diet and regular exercise will help keep your skeletal system strong and healthy.
Eat calcium-rich foods. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that men and women get at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day. This is especially true for people over age 40, when natural bone replacement slows down. Milk, cheese and other dairy products contain calcium. Broccoli, kale, sardines, salmon, Brazil nuts, almonds, oranges and calcium-fortified foods are good sources of calcium as well. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons indicates that getting 1,000 mg of calcium through diet alone may be difficult and therefore suggests a vitamin supplement as well.
Eat foods with vitamin D to assist in calcium absorption. Adults need 15 mcg of vitamin D a day. Foods with vitamin D include dairy, eggs, fatty fish such as salmon or tuna and fortified orange juice and cereal. Exposure to the sun triggers vitamin D synthesis to produce vitamin D, as well.
Perform at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise at least twice a week. Building muscle increases bone density to build healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis. You don’t necessarily need weights or equipment to build muscle. Pushups, squats and planks strengthen muscles over most of the body. As you get stronger, using dumbbells increases the resistance to maintain your strength.
Avoid smoking and drinking. The MayoClinic.com reports that tobacco use and consuming more than two alcoholic drinks a day may contribute to weak bones and osteoporosis.
Discuss potential side effects of medication with your doctor. Some medicines can weaken bones and increase your risk of osteoporosis. Your doctor will be able to prescribe bone-boosting medication if needed.
Protect the body. Wear your seat belt when driving and a helmet when using a motorcycle. Use headgear when engaged in sports that could lead to brain damage such as football, in-line skating, bicycling and horseback riding.
- Hillendale Health: How Does the Skeletal System Help Us?
- The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: Healthy Bones at Every Age
- International Osteoporosis Foundation: Good Nutrition for Healthy Bones
- National Institutes of Health: Vitamin D
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- MayoClinic.com: Bone Health: Tips to Keep Your Bones Healthy
Leslie Truex has been telecommuting and freelancing since 1994. She wrote the "The Work-At-Home Success Bible" and is a career/business and writing instructor at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Truex has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Willamette University and a Master of Social Work from California State University-Sacramento. She has been an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified fitness instructor since 2001.
The effects of exercise on the skeletal system is quite clear in scientific literature discussing anatomy and physiology, mainly stating that physical exercise can increase bone length and mass in most people. Adults whose bones have already reached their full-length potential merely gain strength and density in bones through exercise and mechanical stress placed on the body. The main effects of exercise on the skeletal system of a child usually involve the elongation of bone; however, care should be taken to decrease unneeded stress on the growing body. Since bones can lose calcium deposits as the body ages, it is agreed that many individuals should seek weight-bearing exercises to maintain a healthy skeletal system.
When a mechanical stress is applied on the body through exercise like running, jumping or jogging, the bones of the skeletal system experience both immediate and long-term effects. The main beneficial effects of exercise on the skeletal system include the strengthening and building of bone density in children and adults. Through physical activity, the stress placed on the bones stimulates the secretion of calcium salts that will then deposit into the bone. Since calcium is the main component of bone and is needed in adequate amounts to maintain bone strength and density, many doctors recommend these exercises for preventing bone-related disorders.
One of the other strong effects of exercise on the skeletal system includes the elongation of bone in children and adolescents, mainly during rapid stages of growth. When growth plates are open, physical stress can trigger calcium to deposit in these areas and promote elongation and lengthening of the bone. Proper nutrition is also crucial at this stage in physical growth, as plenty of calcium, vitamin K and vitamin D are needed in conjunction with a healthy exercise program. Running, cycling and other various sports can all contribute to proper bone growth.
For the most part, plenty of physical activity for healthy children and adults results in a healthy skeletal system. It should be noted that too much stress placed on the bones, especially if they are young or fragile, can result in negative consequences. Broken bones can be common if stress is applied to the bones in an incorrect or distorted way, making it important to receive good advice on proper exercise habits and techniques. Stretching before a workout or exercise program can also ensure that the skeletal system remains strong.