Weight Bearing: Definition and What It Is

Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT

Weight Bearing Definition and Meaning

Weight bearing refers to the act of supporting body weight through the bones, muscles, and joints during various activities, such as standing, walking, or exercising. The ability for the body to support its own weight is a crucial element in maintaining skeletal strength and overall physical health, and lowering the risk of bone loss (osteoporosis). Whether you’re standing up from a seated position, walking, or engaging in more strenuous exercises, the ability to bear weight plays a key role in pretty much everything you do.

What Are Weight-Bearing Exercises?

Your body needs to be able to bear weight as you go about your daily life, and weight-bearing exercises can help. When you do weight-bearing exercises — where your body makes contact with the ground — the impact stimulates bones to get stronger. Weight-bearing exercises include walking, jogging, weightlifting, and even yoga. These exercises are particularly beneficial for improving bone density, enhancing muscle strength, and promoting joint health.

Weight Bearing: A Hinge Health Perspective

Your ability to bear weight is essential for maintaining bone density, muscle tone, and joint flexibility, especially as you age. The bone-strengthening effects are particularly important for older adults, because more than half of those 50 or older are at risk of breaking a bone because of osteoporosis or low bone density, according to the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation. During midlife, you tend to maintain bone density, but as you get older, bone can break down faster than it can be rebuilt. This imbalance can eventually lead to low bone density (osteopenia) and osteoporosis. 

But take heart: These changes aren’t inevitable. You have the ability to prevent or at least delay some of these declines by staying active. A well-rounded exercise routine that includes weight-bearing exercises, cardio, flexibility exercises, and balance training will not only help keep your bones strong, but also increase muscle strength, and improve posture, balance, and coordination

Importance in Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy

Weight bearing is often a crucial component of rehabilitation programs, especially for those recovering from surgery or injuries involving the bones, joints, or muscles. Your physical therapist may refer to weight bearing to understand how much weight you can safely put on an affected area. This ranges from full weight bearing (the affected limb or body part can bear 100% of your body weight) to non-weight bearing (in which the affected body part can’t bear any weight at all without pain). A physical therapist can create a plan with controlled weight-bearing exercises that can help in the recovery process by gradually strengthening the affected areas. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. 

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. 

Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.


  1. Osteoporosis Fast Facts. (n.d.) Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/wp-content/uploads/Osteoporosis-Fast-Facts-2.pdf

  2. Exercise and Bone Health. (2020, July). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/exercise-and-bone-health

  3. Brooke-Wavell, K., Skelton, D. A., Barker, K. L., Clark, E. M., Biase, S. D., Arnold, S., Paskins, Z., Robinson, K. R., Lewis, R. M., Tobias, J. H., Ward, K. A., Whitney, J., & Leyland, S. (2022). Strong, steady and straight: UK consensus statement on physical activity and exercise for osteoporosis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 56(15). doi:10.1136/bjsports-2021-104634.

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