Medically reviewed by
Dr. Al Gilpin, MD
McLeod Pediatric Orthopaedics
Let’s start this story backward. One of the ways to keep your knee and hip joints strong as an adult is with weight-bearing exercises starting as a teen.
“Bone is a living tissue that continues to build up,” says McLeod Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist Dr. Al Gilpin. “For the remainder of your life, it’s likely that more bone will be removed than is built up. Up to 90% of your bone mass is built up by your early to mid-20s. For much of the remainder of your life, it is likely that more bone mass is lost than is built up. Failing to build up your bones as a teen, could leave you at risk of osteoporosis and joint problems later in life.”
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT BUILDING BONE
In teenage years, proper nutrition is a key to building up that bone mass. It starts through a well-balanced diet with adequate vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D, zinc and magnesium.
When you reach adulthood, certain foods — such as salmon, tuna, broccoli and spinach — can help delay your need for joint replacement. Many of the foods that are good for heart health are also good for bone health.
Exercise is essential. Sports Medicine experts recommend 10-20 minutes, three days a week of running, jumping, gymnastics or some other exercise that helps build your hips and knees. In the past, recreational activities were a natural part of any male or female teenager’s day. Today’s teens, especially males, lead a dangerously sedentary lifestyle.
Computer games in excess endanger a life’s bone health. The American Pediatric Association and the American Psychology Association BOTH recommend that boys limit their computer, TV and game screen time to 2 hours a day.
However, a 2015 study showed boys spending 4 hours a day in front of their screens on a weekday and 5 hours on a weekend day. (Girls also have screen time higher than recommended, but less than boys.)
Researchers then examined the skeletal mass of these teens and found a relationship between higher screen time and lower bone mineral density.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
If you have any questions, see an Orthopedic Specialist, who can tell you if your children have any skeletal or muscle issues that might lead to problems as an adult.
Find an Orthopedic Specialist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Academy of Pediatrics, Bone & Muscle Journey, American Psychological Association, National Institutes of Health, American College of Sports, Medicine, Contemporary Pediatrics