The best kind of New Year’s resolution to make is one that you can keep. Resolve to make bone health a priority in 2019. Did you know that your bones are living tissues just like your muscles? They provide structure, protect organs, anchor muscles and store calcium. By taking steps to preserve and protect your bone health, you can help improve your overall health and longevity. Make a plan to start the New Year off right and kick these bad habits for good.

1. Staying Indoors All Day

An estimated 85% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Without it, the human body cannot effectively absorb calcium, which is essential to bone health. It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet alone, so resolve to spend more hours in the sun.

2. Poor Eating Habits

Your bones thrive on dark leafy greens, whole grains, fruits, nuts and calcium-rich foods. But when your eating habits consist largely of processed foods, refined sugars and high amounts of sodium, that is what your body is tricked into craving. Give your bones the fuel that they need by making simple dietary changes over time rather than all at once to give yourself that best chance at long-term success.

3. Smoking

Not only is smoking bad for your lungs and overall health in general, but it is also detrimental to your bones. Cigarette smoking has been identified as a risk factor for osteoporosis and bone fracture. Make an appointment with your primary care physicians to discuss cessations options, some of which may even be covered by your health insurance and if successful may result in a reduction or discount on your health insurance premium.

4. Poor Posture

Little by little, a little becomes a lot. The same holds true for simple, everyday posture errors. Over time, poor posture may lead to muscle strain, spine misalignment and worsen your osteoporosis. Sit (or stand) up straight, make sure your computer or other electronic devices are displayed at eye level, plant both feet firmly on the ground and tuck your chin to align your head over your shoulders.

5. Lack of Sleep

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is critical to give your body time to rest and repair itself. Lack of sleep may result in decreased bone density. Sleep recommendations vary depending on your age, but for the average adult (ages 26-64), 7-9 hour of sleep each night are suggested by the National Sleep Foundation

6. Being Sedentary

Like muscles, bones become stronger and denser when you exercise. While any regular physical activity can have positive benefits for your overall health, weight-bearing activities are especially beneficial for bone health. These include anything that requires you to work against gravity like walking, stair climbing or weight lifting. Additional benefits include improved posture, balance and flexibility.

7. Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Alcohol consumption increases the body’s production of cortisol and lowers levels of testosterone and estrogen–all of which contribute to weaker bones. We’re not saying you have to skip out on that New Year’s toast but remember, exercising a little moderation can go a long way toward improving your bone health.

You only get one body with one set of bones, and it’s important to take care of it. Make bone health a priority and replace these bad habits with healthy new ones. For more information about bone health, check out our list of recommended educational websites.