Any exercise that you can do on your feet and that works your muscles against gravity is a weight-bearing exercise. According to the American Osteopathic Association, weight-bearing exercises help post-menopausal women by preventing or reversing osteoporosis, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and keeping the joints flexible. Weight-bearing exercises improve the bone and muscle health and also help women lose weight. Older post-menopausal women should strive to get at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise at least three to four days a week. Women diagnosed with osteoporosis should also avoid jerky, twisting and bending exercises that could lead to compression injuries of the spine.
High Impact Exercises
High impact weight-bearing exercises include activities such as running, jogging, hopping, jumping rope and high-impact aerobic dance routines. One or both of your feet will be off the ground during high impact exercises. Brisk walking or jogging for 30 minutes each day can increase bone density and strengthen leg, thigh and back muscles. Older post-menopausal women who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or arthritis should not engage in high impact exercise before seeking their doctor's advice.
Low Impact Exercises
Low impact weight-bearing exercises are safer for older post-menopausal women who suffer from arthritis pain or osteoporosis. Low impact exercises generally do not require lifting your feet off the ground or jumping. Examples of low impact weight- bearing exercise include using a stair-step machine or elliptical machine and exercising on a recumbent stationary bicycle. Low impact exercises are easier on the joints than high impact exercises, but still have bone and muscle strengthening benefits.
Body Weight Exercises
Body weight exercises do not require equipment, except your own body weight for muscle and joint strengthening. Such exercises pit your body weight against gravity to strengthen muscle and help improve bone density. Situps, pushups and crunches are examples of body weight exercises. Planks, squats and lunges are also challenging and effective body weight exercises for building lean muscle and reducing body fat. However, older women who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis may be at risk of broken bones from the strain of weight-bearing exercises. Check with your doctor before starting body weight exercises.
Balance exercises pit your body weight against gravity as you strive to maintain your balance in various positions. Tai chi, yoga and Pilates are different types of mind-body exercises that incorporate balance, strength, flexibility and stability to help strengthen your legs, core, back muscles and bones. Balance exercises also help improve posture and coordination. Improved balance, strong bones and muscles and flexibility are important for post-menopausal women to reduce the risk of a fall and injury. If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, do not perform these exercises without first consulting your physician.
- American Osteopathic Association: Exercising After Menopause
- Annals of Internal Medicine: Weight-Bearing Exercise Training and Lumbar Bone Mineral Content in Postmenopausal Women
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Weight-bearing Exercise for Women and Girls
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Exercise - Exercise's Effects on Bones and Muscles
- University of Arizona: Post-menopausal Women and Exercise for Prevention of Osteoporosis