4. Drink only in moderation. If you drink alcohol, stick to no more than one drink a day, or up to seven a week for women, and no more than two a day, or up to 10 a week for men. Doctors have long known that excessive, long-term use of alcohol can harm your bones by affecting the production of hormones and vitamins needed to absorb calcium. Alcohol abuse also can increase your risk of falling, which can break fragile bones.

5. Don’t smoke. A number of studies in recent decades have shown that smokers have lower bone mass and a higher risk of fractures than non-smokers, and the risk increases with the number of years and cigarettes one smokes, according to the National Institutes of Health. Of course, it’s best not to smoke in the first place. But if you already smoke, quitting is the next best thing. The sooner you quit the better. A 2006 study of postmenopausal women who quit, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, found that their bone health improved in a year.

6. Mind your medications. Corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, weaken bones by decreasing the amount of calcium absorbed in the intestines and increasing the amount excreted by the kidneys. One way to minimize the risk of bone damage is to take the lowest dose for the shortest time possible to decrease inflammation. If only one or a few joints are affected, injecting corticosteroids directly into the joint(s) may relieve inflammation without the bone damage of oral corticosteroids. If you need corticosteroids in high doses or long term, ask your doctor about medications to prevent or treat osteoporosis.

7. Consider treatment options. If you are taking corticosteroids or have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia – low bone mass that is not yet serious enough to be classified as osteoporosis – speak to your doctor about treatment. A number of medications are approved for treating or preventing osteoporosis. They are the bisphonates alendronate, brand name Fosamax; ibandronate, brand name Boniva; risedronate sodium, brand name Actonel; and zoledronic acid, brand name Reclast; hormones, including estrogen products and calcitonin, brand name Mialcin; the bone-formation agent teriparatide, brand name Forteo; the selective estrogen receptor modulator raloxifene hydrochloride, brand name Evista; and the biologic agent denosumab, brand name Prolia.

Although there are many differences in these drugs, they work basically in one of two ways to increase bone mass: by slowing the breakdown of old bone or promoting the growth of new bone.

8. Say goodbye to belly fat. Fat around one's midsection is bad for bones. A study by doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital shows abdominal fat is associated with lower bone density. Other studies show that some of the things you do for your bones – exercising and getting plenty of calcium – also help reduce belly fat. And if you smoke and can stop, and begin an exercise program, that's doubly good for you. The best way to shed abdominal fat? Eat a balanced diet.