If you’re a “person of a certain age,” you’ve probably heard that you should be doing regular weight-bearing exercises to help improve your bone density. But do you know which exercises are weight-bearing and which aren’t?
Weight-bearing exercise means your feet and legs are supporting the weight of the rest of your body. So walking, jogging, hiking, dancing, stair climbing, fencing, ice skating, tennis—these are all weight bearing exercises. But swimming and bicycling are not weight-bearing, because your body weight is being supported by the bike seat or the water.
Weight bearing exercises are great for your bone health because holding up the weight of the body stresses the bone tissue, especially in your hips, legs and spine. That stress causes the bone to adapt and strengthen by building new bone cells.
The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension has prepared a chart of beginner, intermediate and advanced weight-bearing activities. Click the link to get some creative ideas about how to build and maintain your bone density.
If you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, you’ll need your doctor’s approval to begin an exercise program that’s appropriate for your ability. Chances are, in addition to weight bearing exercises, your doctor will recommend resistance exercises to strengthen muscle and bone tissue and flexibility and balance exercises to reduce your risk of falling. We’ll talk more about each of these in future blog posts.
Have a question about bone density and weight bearing exercise? Ask in the comments below!