Weight-Bearing Exercise: Benefits and Workouts

There are many different types of exercise to try, and since variety is the spice of life, it’s important to keep incorporating new workouts into your fitness routine.

Adding some weight-bearing exercise to your workouts can help you in specific ways that might not be addressed by other types of exercise.

For example, weight-bearing workouts can improve your body’s tone, as well as your muscle and bone strength. It can even decrease your risk for injury and help you lose weight faster when combined with other types of exercise. So if you’re interested in improving your bone density, joint strength, and muscle tone and mass, try some of these exercises to add weight-bearing activities to your fitness routine.

Tips for Effective Weight-Bearing Exercise

Before we look at some of the best exercises for building bone density and muscle mass, let’s consider the weight-bearing workout. If you’re under the age of 30, you’re still in a position to increase your bone density. But if you’re over 30, you shouldn’t ignore weight-bearing exercise just because you won’t be building up your bones – you should be doing these exercises to maintain bone density.

This is just as important as building up bone density because it can help prevent your body from leaching nutrients from your bones. You can also do weight-bearing exercise at any age to build and maintain muscle tone and mass. So no matter how old you are, you can benefit from weight-bearing exercise in a variety of ways that shouldn’t be ignored.

When you start adding this type of activity to your routine, aim for an eventual daily workout that lasts 30 minutes (this can be done in three 10-minute intervals if you find that approach to be easier). But if you’re not used to that length and frequency, try starting with 15-minute workouts three times a week, working up from there when you feel able. Now, on to the weight-bearing exercises to get you on your way to building a stronger body.

Types of Weight-Bearing Exercise

  • Tai Chi/Yoga – No matter which style you practice of either tai chi or yoga, you’ll experience the benefits of slow, deliberate, weight-bearing movement. Using your own body’s weight, you’ll build strength, density and mass as you balance, stretch, hold poses, and actively lift your limbs.
  • Aerobics/Dance – The fast movement and use of personal mass to induce weight-bearing activity in these types of exercise can get your body stronger in no time.
  • Weight Lifting – This is perhaps the most intuitive weight-bearing exercises, and it’s a great way to build both muscle and bone. Just be careful not to overdo your workouts or you’ll risk tearing down too much muscle and possibly fracturing low-density bones. A personal trainer can help you develop the right program for your individual needs.
  • Jogging/Running – Supporting your weight as you jog or run helps you build muscle and bone. To extend the benefits in your upper body, you can run with small handheld weights.
  • Racquet Sports – With both high-intensity running and the act of supporting and swinging a racket with your upper body, racquet sports are full-body weight-bearing workouts.
  • Team Sports – Try playing softball, baseball, volleyball, basketball, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, football, or any other sport that encourages you to both run and use your upper body. These types of exercise develop muscle and bone in many areas of your body, making them the best approach to general weight-bearing fitness. If you need to recruit others to play with you, try searching your local Craigslist pages under “community” – choose “activities,” “groups,” or “general.” You can even post your own ad to promote group weight-bearing exercise.

Heather is a freelance writer and the resident blogger for Onlinenursingdegrees.org, an informational website offering tips about nursing schools online.

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