You may hear the term “weight bearing exercise” thrown around quite a lot, but you may be wondering what exactly is this and how is it different than any other type of exercise and why is it important?

Well, if you have ever asked yourself those questions, this blog is the one for you! I am going to dive into what exactly it means to participate in weight bearing exercise and what the particular benefits are of this kind of exercise, especially for the aging population.

Weight bearing exercise is any exercise that works your muscles and bones against gravity. These types of exercises put weight on your bones and joints. In these exercises your body has to adapt to the impact of weight the pull of muscle. Your body does this by building more bone cells and increasing muscle fiber strength. These adaptations therefore increase bone strength and density and increase strength and joint mobility.

This type of exercise is different than just strictly resistance exercise, which some people can confuse with it being the same thing. Although both are types of strengthening exercises, resistance exercise is slightly different. Resistance exercise is strictly referring to lifting weights and working against the weights. Both can strengthen bone and muscle in certain regards but not all resistance exercises are resistance exercises.  

Now that you kind of have an idea of what weight bearing exercise is, here are some examples to help solidify what kind of exercises this may include.

  • Running
  • Jogging
  • Squats
  • Pushup
  • Lunges
  • Hiking
  • Dancing
  • Bowling
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Stair climbing
  • Golf

So why should you participate in weight bearing exercise specifically? How may this be of benefit to you?

Weight bearing exercise is really good for increasing bone density and strength. This is important because as you age, one’s bone density naturally decreases in which they have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Incorporating weight bearing exercise into one’s routine has shown to decrease one’s risk for osteoporosis by 44%!  One study showed that the initial incorporation of weight bearing exercise for 2-3 times a week showed very significant increases in bone density and strength within the first few initial weeks. After 6 months of incorporating this routine, the study decreased the frequency to 1-2 times per week of 1 hour sessions of weight bearing exercise and they found that even though decreased in frequency, they still saw maintenance of bone density and bone strength therefore protecting one against the naturally progression of decreased bone density as they age. Weight bearing exercise also increases overall muscle strength. Together, increased bone strength and density and increased muscular strength help to prevent falls, increase balance, decrease risk of fractures/injuries, and increase overall strength to continue to do daily activities you love and want to do independently!