WE SPEND too much time indoors nowadays, owing to the Covid-19 scare. Work-from-home and online food and grocery shopping have made us literally immobile. Being homebound for months can impact one’s bone health.
Let the sun shine on you
Vitamin D, known as ‘sunshine vitamin’, is an essential hormone. People with Vitamin D deficiency are hit harder by Covid-19. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphate as well. It reduces the risk of a fall in the elderly and thus fractures. Vitamin D deficiency could weaken bones and affect other organs. Exposure to the sun allows the body to convert cholesterol into vitamin D. You need an uninterrupted exposure to the sun for 30-45 minutes, between 10am and 3pm. Ensure your face, neck, upper parts of the trunk and arms are exposed to sunlight.
Optimal levels of vitamin D are between 25-30 nanogram/mL. If your Vitamin D levels are below 20, you need to take supplements (60,000 international units) once a week. Continue it for 12 weeks and then bring it down to one dose every month.
Keep moving, but exercise caution
Movement is essential for bone health. Joint movements help circulate the synovial fluid that nourishes the cartilage and keeps it healthy. When somebody is bedridden, the knee joints start degenerating from disuse. Sitting for long periods can take a toll on your bones and joints. Use a sit-stand desk, which allows you to switch between sitting and standing. Anybody who stands for more than a couple of hours continuously or jogs at a speed of more than 3-4km per hour or climbs more than 15 stories in a day is damaging his knees.
Why women should exercise?
Postmenopausal women tend to have lower levels of oestrogen, which, in turn, could lead to weaker bones and osteoporosis. Regular exercise can help keep bone diseases at bay. Kick-start your day with suryanamaskar. Do dumbbell exercises to strengthen your upper body and core muscles. For those who are younger and fitter, skipping is a good exercise. Wearable weights help strengthen the bones.
Life after a knee or hip replacement surgery
Exercise your muscles so you get full benefit of your replacements. If you do not stretch your knee joint in the months after the surgery, it could get a slight bend and could reduce your ability to walk.
Food for stronger bones
Include milk and milk products in your diet. Salmon, liver, cheese and egg yolks are rich in vitamin D. Indian food like chapati and rajma (kidney beans curry) contain phytates that block the absorption of vitamin D and calcium. By soaking and sprouting the kidney beans, you can reduce the amount of phytates in rajma.
—As told to Mini P. Thomas
Dr Rajesh Malhotra is the head, department of orthopaedics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi