Keeping Your Bones Healthy During Cold Weather

January 11, 2018

Dr. Jeremy Alland, primary care sports medicine physician at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, spoke with Sylvia Perez of FOX32 Chicago about the precautions we should take in the winter months to protect our bones. He warns that the combination of less sun, reduced exercise and more ice can be harmful for year-round bone health.

Less Sun

Less sun means that your body is making less Vitamin D which is produced when sunlight hits the skin and triggers a series of chemical reactions. People in northern latitudes with less year round sun exposure do not produce this essential vitamin in large enough quantities. People with darker skin also absorb less Vitamin D. More Vitamin D supplements and food containing Vitamin D should be consumed during the winter months to strengthen bones.

  • Food high in Vitamin D: salmon, sardines, canned tuna, beef liver, egg yolks, mushrooms, fortified milk and fortified OJ

Less Exercise 

This is a common side effect of cold temps. Because it is cold and icy outside, you may not be doing your normal exercise routine. However, exercise helps to keep the bones healthy—and your mood elevated. Perform workouts available on TV or online. Negotiate a deal with a gym for just the winter months. Try it outside:  Buy layers of warmer clothing for walking or running outside. Try a new sport like snow-shoeing, platform tennis or cross-country skiing!

Icy Falls

Even the strongest bone will be at risk when it is icy. One slip and fall can break a bone in two. Don’t be distracted when outside in icy conditions. Put the phone away! It’s important to do more exercises that can help improve your balance. Avoid medications that cause dizziness and drowsiness because they increase the risk of falls. Use assistive devices like canes, walkers, walking sticks and trekking poles to improve stability. One fall—and the injuries that it can cause— could ruin your entire year.