Weight Bearing Exercise – Why is it so important?

In a nutshell, weight-bearing exercises create bone density which in turn helps to prevent osteoporosis.

We’ve all heard that before, but how does this work?

Our bones grow, remodel and regrow themselves when there is an impetus from external environment. Essentially, bone is formed after a stress has been placed upon it. This results in bone cell migrating to the stressed area where they start the process of laying down new bone. The bone cells manufacture and secrete proteins (primarily collagen) which is deposited in between the bone cells to increase bone strength in that area. These proteins will eventually mineralise, which gives bone its characteristic rigidity.

One of the best ways to support this process is to perform movements where our body is upright and working against gravity – anything where the body is staining impact. Interestingly, our bones respond best to this weight-bearing exercise when the movements are comprised of short, high-intensity bursts.

Another way to fast-track bone strength is by engaging in resistance training. This style of exercise is about using your muscles to move an external force and in turn the muscles pull on the bones. Nay session which uses free weights, resistance bands or your own body weight against gravity can achieve muscular strength, and therefore enhance your bone strength.

Your choice of exercise will need to be optimally challenging to have a significant effect on bone density. Over time, it should become progressively harder – the weights should become heavier, and the impact should become higher. The bones love variety, so moving in many different directions is key.

If you’re not sure where to start, keep it simple and use light weights. This gradual approach will help you to avoid injury and keep your heart, lungs and mind in top condition.