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How to Do Weight-Bearing Exercises

We really can’t stress enough the importance of bone health.

Osteoporosis can be a silent killer, but it’s preventable and in many cases reversible. One of the best treatments for it are weight-bearing exercises which are movements that rely on your body weight. On top of that, weight-bearing exercises are great for overall fitness and muscle toning and can easily be done anywhere. Simple examples of weight-bearing exercises include running and dancing, but there are plenty you can do at home (in front of the TV or before bed) if you’ve got less spare time. 

Before you start on the exercises below, remember that longer-term exercise plans, which include adding in exercises like jogging, yoga, swimming, or dancing, are a more effective way to help with your overall bone health and body toning. That said, sometimes it’s just a bit too cold to leave the house or time really isn’t on your side, so these at-home exercises are a great way to fill in the gaps. If you have small weights at home, that will be super helpful but otherwise for most of these exercises, all you need is a yoga mat and you’re set!

Remember: run through each exercise below a few times. Once you’ve done each circuit once, repeat from the top. This will ensure you’re really giving yourself a good workout. These aren’t designed to be particularly difficult, but just strenuous enough to complement a regular exercise routine and ensure that you’re getting a full body weight-bearing routine. 

OPTION 1

CIRCUIT 1 (for legs) – Knee Lifts

  • Sit on a bench or chair with ankle weights strapped around your ankles
  • “March” in place by lifting the knees alternatively
  • Do 10 reps (lift each knee 10 times)

CIRCUIT 2 (for hips) – Straight Leg Lifts

  • While holding on to a chair or wall (for balance), stand on one leg and lift the other leg straight up and down slowly in front of you. 
  • Do 10 reps then switch legs.

CIRCUIT 3 (for spine) – Spine Stretches

  • Grab a small towel (or T-shirt or rag) and extend your arms above your head, pulling the ends of the towel slightly, bending your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together. 
  • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat up to 6 times.

CIRCUIT 4 (for arms and shoulders) – Arm Lifts

  • Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor and grab dumbbells (one in each hand). Press your arms to the ceiling until they’re almost straight, then lower your arms back down.
  • Do 10 reps.  

CIRCUIT 5 (for wrists) – Chair Lift

  • Sit on a chair and lean forward slightly, placing palms of hands on the chair on either side of your thighs. Press up gently, using your arms to lift your hips slightly off the chair. Slowly lower yourself down. 
  • Do 20 reps. 
WEIGHT-BEARING EXERCISES SHORT GUIDE OPTION 1

OPTION 2

CIRCUIT 1 (for legs) – Knee Curl

  • Stand behind a sturdy chair, facing forward with feet shoulder-length apart. With your foot fully flexed, slowly bend one leg backwards, bringing your heel towards your buttocks. Pause, then slowly lower your leg back to standing position. Repeat with other leg. For extra strength, use ankle weights! 
  • Do 10 reps (lifting each leg 10 times!)

CIRCUIT 2 (for hips) – Side Leg Lift

  • Stand to one side of a chair (or any other stable structure), using it for balance. Lift your outside leg straight out to the side and then bring it back in. Move to the other side of the chair and repeat with your other leg.
  • Do 10 reps (lifting each leg 10 times!)

CIRCUIT 3 (for spine) – Seated Row

  • Sit on a chair and hold small weights straight out in front of you (one in each hand), with your palms facing each other. Be sure your arms are straight at chest-level and slightly lower than your shoulders. Bend your arms, pulling them towards your chest with your elbows going back past your shoulders (not out to the side!) 
  • Do 20 reps.

CIRCUIT 4 (for arms and shoulders) – Wall press-ups

  • With your feet slightly apart, stand facing a wall, about arms-length away and place your hands on the wall, with elbows slightly bent and hands at shoulder-height. Make sure your back is NOT rounded. Bend at the elbows and lean towards forward slowly. Pause, then slowly push yourself back up. Just like a regular press-up, but just against a wall and standing!
  • Do 20 reps.  

CIRCUIT 5 (for wrists) – Wrist Curls

  • Sit on a chair with your feet hip-length apart and your knees directly above your feet.
  • Rest your forearms on your thighs, with a LIGHT weight in each hand in an underhand grip (i.e. your hand is gripping the weight from below – palms facing upward). If you do not have light weights, you can use full water bottles or soup cans.
  • Keeping your forearms rested on your thighs, slowly lift fingers and wrists up towards you. Be sure your forearms and elbows remain down on your thigh.
  • Do 10 reps (lifting each wrist 10 times!) Then, repeat exercise with an overhand grip (palms facing floor, moving fingers and wrists downwards, away from you).
WEIGHT-BEARING EXERCISES SHORT GUIDE OPTION 1