Why Weight-Bearing Exercise Should Be Part of Your Physical Activity Routine

Disclaimer: Before starting any new exercise routine or adding something on, first consult with a healthcare provider for your safety.

Weight-bearing exercise is a form of physical activity that requires your body to work against gravity. In other words, you perform it on your feet, which requires extra effort from your muscles and bones to hold you upright. These activities are ideal for building and maintaining the strength of your bones.

Some examples of weight-bearing exercise include:

  • Walking and jogging
  • Hiking
  • Climbing stairs
  • Dancing
  • Tennis
  • Certain types of strength/resistance exercise (i.e. squats)

The Importance of Weight-Bearing Exercise

Weight-bearing exercise is particularly beneficial to your bone health. The bones in your body are always in a state of remodeling as new bone replaces old bone. Bones can also repair themselves and grow. By incorporating weight-bearing exercise into your physical activity routine, you can help your bones adapt and strengthen. This is especially important as you age and if you are recovering from illness or injury.

While activities like rowing, cycling and swimming are all great exercises, they are not weight-bearing and won’t improve your bone health in the same way.  If you typically rely on these types of exercises to get your physical activity in, you should consider adding more weight-bearing exercise to your routine such as walking or light resistance-based movements. That way, you can ensure your exercise is well-balanced.

Managing Osteoporosis

People with osteoporosis, a bone disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle, can especially benefit from weight-bearing physical activity. Starting the right kind of exercise, in combination with other preventive measures like appropriate calcium intake, can help build bone mass and strengthen bones.

If you have osteoporosis and are considering doing more weight-bearing physical activity, you should speak with a healthcare provider before engaging in any new exercise. This is especially true if you are mostly sedentary and your body is not used to a lot of movement. Certain movements can put you at risk for bone fractures and breaks.

For more information about exercising for your bone health, click here to learn from the NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center.

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