Bone Health Prescription: Weight-Bearing Exercise

These weight-bearing exercises can help protect you from age-induced bone conditions.

RELATED: 4 Ways To Battle Bone Aging

In this article:

  1. Exercise, Bone Health, and Aging
  2. 9 Weight-Bearing Exercises to Add to Your Daily Routine

9 Weight-Bearing Exercises for Bone Health

Exercise, Bone Health, and Aging

We all know exercise is an important component of good health. When it comes to bone health, not all exercises are created equal.

Weight-bearing exercises are beneficial to preserve bone health and bone density.

As you age, the structure and density of your bones are negatively affected, forming a weaker, less mineral-dense bone. Weight-bearing exercises can help to off-set this age-associated loss of bone structure and density.

This is important as the chronic loss of bone density can result in porous bone disease, osteoporosis, which increases the likelihood of having brittle bones and debilitating fractures.

9 Weight-Bearing Exercises to Add to Your Daily Routine

Weight-bearing exercise need not be humdrum. Here are nine bone-benefiting exercises to spice up your routine.

1. Brisk Walking

As simple as walking might seem, it’s an excellent activity for revamping your bone health and for weight loss, too.

In one study, researchers reported that walking four hours a week gave postmenopausal subjects a 41% lower risk of hip fractures versus walking for just less than an hour a week.

You can start with brisk walking, but you can gradually speed up or even jog depending on your current fitness level. You can do this exercise almost anywhere as it’s easy to add in your daily routine.

2. Hiking

Happy old man just reaches the top of hill hiking | Bone Health Prescription: Weight-Bearing Exercise | weight-bearing exercises can | resistance exercise
Exercises that focus on working out the legs and feet can help increase bone density.

Expand your horizons as you increase bone density, especially in your hips.

Looking for a more beneficial bone impact? Go for an extra hilly hike.

With hiking, you take walking to the next level, providing more positive impact on your bones. Your bones also benefit from the extra force and effort when hiking uphill and downhill.

When it comes to increasing bone density, the more the legs and feet work, the better.

Hiking is also a great activity for socializing and meeting new people. Definitely a win-win.

3. Yoga

A study reported in Yoga Journal found an increase in bone mineral density in women who practiced yoga. Yoga can build bone health in hips, spine, and wrists – the bones most vulnerable to fracture.

You can try these yoga poses:

  • Standing stances like Warrior I and II help with the larger bones of the legs and hips.
  • The Downward Dog pose, on the other hand, targets the arms, shoulders, and wrists.
  • The Locust and Cobra poses can work the back muscles, which help in keeping the spine healthy.

Doing yoga can also sharpen one’s coordination, balance, concentration, and body awareness, reducing the risk of falls and other accidents.

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4. Racquet Sports

Clutching that racquet, swinging at the ball, and running around chasing wild balls are all good for your bones.

Tennis, table tennis, and squash can help improve your bone density. With these activities, you are working your racquet arm, shoulder, wrist to hit the ball, and your hips and spine with the running around and turning.

To get as much exercise as you can, play singles since you’ll have to move around more.

5. Golf

Mature man playing golf while standing by woman | Bone Health Prescription: Weight-Bearing Exercise | weight-bearing exercises can | low-impact exercises
Walking the greens is beneficial for your hips and spine.

Pass on the golf cart, and you’ll get plenty of bone-benefits from shouldering the golf bag to swinging the big clubs. When your ball gets lost in the rough, and you have to track it down, don’t despair―consider it a great workout for your hips and spine!

6. Weight Lifting

The most common form of weight-bearing exercise is resistance training. To avoid injury, resistance training should be carefully executed with guidance from an experienced trainer or physical therapist.

Resistance Training Definition: This involves physical activities usually performed with free weights, gym equipment, or one’s body weight. It is designed to improve bone and muscular fitness by subjecting the body against external resistance.

Other weight-bearing exercises include kickboxing, step classes, dancing, and additional forms of strength training.

Note: Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine to know which suits your physique best.

7. Dancing

Dance your way to fitness! You don’t have to be good at it, you just have to get moving.

Whatever suits your style—salsa, rhumba, tango, foxtrot, or even Zumba—moving your body to the beat is a great aerobic exercise, which gets your heart pumping and improves your bone density.

Try joining clubs or gyms offering dance classes. Many trainers and instructors also add strength training and flexibility exercises to their classes to help with balance.

8. Tai Chi

Elderly Asian people practicing Tai Chi together | Bone Health Prescription: Weight-Bearing Exercise | weight-bearing exercises can | strengthening exercises
The slow and controlled movements of the Tai Chi help reduce bone density loss.

Tai Chi, also called the “moving meditation,” is a graceful form of exercise performed with a series of slow, focused movements partnered with deep and mindful breathing. It can help in building coordination and bone density.

In a study published in Physician and Sports Medicine, researchers found Tai Chi to slow bone loss in postmenopausal women. According to the research, subjects who did 45 minutes of Tai Chi daily, five times a week within a year experienced a 3.5 times slower rate of bone loss compared to the non-Tai-Chi group.

There are also studies showing Tai Chi can help in improving mood, muscle strength, and balance.

9. Gardening

Aside from having soothing and calming benefits, gardening can also be therapeutic for your bones.

A University of Arkansas study suggests that regular gardening may help prevent osteoporosis. Researchers found that women aged 50 and up who gardened at least once a week tested to have better bone density than those who performed other physical activities like swimming, jogging, walking, and low-impact aerobics.

This is so as tasks involved in gardening like digging, pushing a wheelbarrow, carrying compost bags, and can work as weight-bearing exercises.

To be ultimately safe, it’s best to check with your doctor what activities best fit your current situation and fitness level. You can also ask them for natural supplements that can give your bones a boost from the inside.

Which of these exercises appeal the most to you? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 26, 2012, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.