Weight-bearing Exercise

Your doctor or trainer may suggest you try weight-bearing exercise. If you are not quite sure what it is, read on.

What Is It?

In weight-bearing exercises, your bones and muscles work against gravity and your feet and legs bear the weight. The weight and pull of the muscle make your bones build more bone cells. This makes your bones stronger. This kind of exercise may help prevent osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones.

How It Works

Weight-bearing exercises include strength-training (resistance) exercises and some aerobic (cardio) exercises. These exercises build strength and cardio work:

  • Jogging
  • Walking
  • Stair climbing
  • Dancing
  • Soccer
  • Basketball

These exercises build strength:

  • Bodyweight exercises such as push-ups or chin-ups
  • Weightlifting with free weights, weight machines, or elastic tubing

These exercises can be low or high intensity depending on your needs. General exercise goals aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week. You may need to start with small bouts of exercises then work your way up. Look for ways to include weight bearing movement in everyday habits. Take stairs instead of elevator, walk instead of taking the car, or park a little further from the store.

Getting Started

Check with your doctor before you start an exercise program. If you are new to exercise, a certified athletic trainer can help you find a safe and fun program. You can find a trainer at a local gym, or by asking your doctor or a friend.


American College of Sports Medicine
National Strength and Conditioning Association


Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology


American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
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The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine website. Available at:
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The Physician and Sportsmedicine journal.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 1/29/2021

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