Bending causes muscle to pull against bone, making it a weight bearing exercise.
You know that weight bearing exercises improve your fitness, and they help strengthen your bones, too. Not all exercises are equal when it comes to weight bearing so it can be difficult to determine which ones are considered weight bearing and which ones aren't. If you want to stick to weight bearing exercises and would like to include walking and various bending exercises in your workout, for example, you'll need to know if they fit the weight bearing profile.
The Gravity Factor
You don't necessarily have to use resistance to make an exercise weight bearing. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says that weight bearing applies to any activity done upright on your feet that moves your muscles and bones against gravity. So when you bend or walk, you're performing weight bearing activities.
How it Works
When you walk and bend, your muscles pull on your bones, stressing them and breaking down the tissue. It works just like building muscle: by performing weight bearing exercises on a regular basis, you force your bones to adjust to the stress being put on them. The result is that your bones build more cells to adapt to the stress, becoming stronger in the process.
Pass on Hand and Ankle Weights
You might be tempted to strap on ankle and wrist weights when walking or performing bending exercises to increase the benefits. But using these types of weights can cause injuries to your joints by placing extra stress on them. In his article for the American Council on Exercise, Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D. advises going no heavier than 3 pounds when using these types of weights. Dr. Bryant says that the better alternative is to forego the wrist and ankle weights in favor of a weighted vest, which spreads the extra weight and stress more evenly over your frame instead of concentrating it on particular joints. Also, you can always walk faster or move through your bending exercises more quickly -- but not so fast that you don't keep proper form -- if you want to increase the challenge of the exercises.
Weight Bearing Impact
Bending and walking -- even brisk walking, whether outdoors or inside on a treadmill -- are useful weight bearing exercises to include in your workout if you're trying to stick to low-impact activities, as they are low-impact exercises. They can be incorporated with other low-impact actions such as resistance training with weights or bands, body weight exercises and cardio training on the elliptical or stair-stepper machines. If you don't have an injury or other condition that would make high-impact exercise unsafe, the National Osteoporosis Foundation says high-impact weight bearing exercises that can be useful for bone strengthening include high-impact aerobics, jogging, jumping rope and hiking. Medline Plus advises performing weight bearing exercises at least 3 days a week to total 90 minutes.