Weight-bearing exercises can help women reduce the onset of osteoporosis, a serious issue as they age. More than half of women will suffer a fracture during their senior years, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Simple weight-bearing exercises will help any woman improve bone density while burning calories and strengthening muscle.
Health experts vary in their definition of “weight bearing,” with some including only those exercises that put your body’s weight on your legs, while others include any exercise that puts resistance against your bones, muscles and joints, such as performing dumbbell exercises while sitting down. Others include any resistance exercise that causes muscle exertion, pulling muscles and tendons against bone, because this helps increase calcium deposits at those bone sites.
Walking might be the easiest form of weight-bearing exercise because your body is so used to it. Increasing the pace of your walking increases your calorie burn. Adding dumbbell exercises while you walk increases upper-body resistance, or weight bearing. To increase muscular use, walk an outdoor course that has hills, or increase the incline on a treadmill. Walking stairs emphasizes using your calves to push you up the stairs and your quads to slow you down as you descend. If you can take the impact, add one- or two-minute jogs every 10 minutes throughout your walk.
If you aren’t interested in performing high-impact aerobic dancing, which causes both feet to leave the ground at once, try step aerobics. Place a small platform in front of you and perform a variety of movements that require you to continually step up and down during the workout. Step forward onto the platform with one foot, then step back down and repeat with the opposite foot. Stand to the side of the step and move onto and off of it one foot at a time. Step onto the platform from behind, then step off the front of it. Stand to the side of the platform and step onto it, then off the other side. Check your TV listings or find a website that offers free step instruction or workouts.
Start with light dumbbells, approximately 2.5 to 5 pounds, depending on your strength, and perform a wide variety of upper- and lower-body exercises to improve your bone density. Common exercises with simple movements include biceps curls, triceps extensions, rows, kickbacks, flyes, lunges, deadlifts, heel raises and squats. To perform biceps curls, stand with the weights down at your sides and your palms facing forward. Slowly raise and lower the weights with a bend at your elbow. For lunges, hold the weights down at your sides, then simply take a long stride forward, bending your knees and lowering yourself as far as you comfortably can while keeping your torso straight. Step back and raise yourself.
If you don’t mind high-impact exercises, include a variety of box jumps to your workout routines. Stand in front of a knee-high box and jump onto it, then off of it. Stand with one leg on the box and push yourself upward with your raised leg into a jump, landing back on the box. Use a calf-high box to quickly step up and down, one foot at a time, moving backward and forward. Jump onto the box with both feet from the side, then off the other side, and repeat.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.