Osteopenia is a condition in which a person suffers from low bone mineral density or bone loss. Osteoporosis is a more severe form of osteopenia. Those with osteopenia are at high risk for getting osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercises, using bodyweight or with added weight, stimulate the body to build and maintain bone density.
According to an article in the Harvard Health Letter, weight-bearing activities include those in which your feet touch the ground. Biking and swimming do not count, but running and walking do. Walking is the most convenient and common form of weight-bearing exercise. You don't need any equipment and you can do it anywhere, even around your house. Find a partner and take a walk around your neighborhood. Head to the gym and walk on the treadmill. Going to new environments will keep you from getting bored. Add some challenges by walking on an incline, up a hill, or backwards. Walking is easily the most versatile of the weight-bearing exercises. A lot of cities have walking groups you can join. Go window shopping and walk around a mall or shopping center. Use your imagination, grab a friend, and start today.
Squats are an effective exercise for building muscle and strengthening bone. Squats can be done with just your body weight, or more advanced exercisers can hold dumbbells or a barbell for additional weight. Start in a standing position with your feet about hip-width apart, toes facing forward. If you are a beginner, stand next to a chair or other stable object. Hold onto the back of the chair for balance until you are comfortable squatting. Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back and bending your knees as if you are going to sit down. For some, raising your arms in front of your body, helps to balance better. Stop the motion when your thighs are just, or slightly above, parallel to the ground. Press through your heels to straighten your legs and stand back up.
Step-ups are a simple, weight-bearing exercise that you can do at home, at the gym or just about anywhere. Find a sturdy, stable surface that you can safely step on. The height of the surface will depend on your fitness level and height. Generally, a step between 8 and 16 inches will work well. Place your left foot on the step. Now press through the left foot to propel yourself all the way onto the step. Once balanced, step back down with your right foot. Make sure to control the downward movement. Then step off with your left foot, so both feet are on the ground again. Repeat, starting with the right leg this time.
Use dumbbells for weight-bearing exercises that work your upper body. Bicep curls and tricep extensions are two examples. Bicep curls and tricep extensions can be done standing or seated. Hold a weight in each hand -- arms at your side and palms facing forward. Slowly bend your elbows and curl your hands up toward your shoulders. Release slowly -- do not let the arms drop. Repeat 10 to 15 times, do three sets. For tricep extensions, hold your weights at your hip. Relax your shoulders and slowly straighten the arms behind you. Bend the elbows and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times, do three sets.
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