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Bone strengthening options for seniors -- power hopping

By Dr. Susan E. Brown, PhD

Hopping 100 times a day isn’t for everyone, but I make it part of my routine and have recommended it for years for those who are able. So imagine how enthusiastic I was that British researchers have "powered-up" simple hopping for remarkable hip-building benefits — and this was among seniors with the average age of 70.

While modest gains were noted by the standard bone density tests, special 3D bone strength mapping revealed remarkable gains:

These impressive results were obtained by 70-year-old men who would normally experience aging bone loss each year. The gains were from the impact with each hop delivering 2.7 to 3 times body weight ground resistance force (this indicates a significant enough hop to produce an impact of 2-3 times one’s body weight). While the study was done with men, I seen no reason why women would not achieve the same gains from brief single-legged daily hopping. Furthermore, I suspect one would obtain substantial benefits from one legged hopping even if they did not reach the high impact level used in this study.

Here's their simple hopping program:

• Over the course of several weeks, participants worked up to 50 single-legged hops a day

• They hopped on the same leg each day

• As they gained strength, the hops became multidirectional (10 up and down vertical, 10 to the front, 10 back, 10 each to right and left sides)

• At the year's end hip cortical mass and trabecular density had increase substantially in both legs with greatest gains accrued in the hopping leg.

Granted, these powered-up hops are not for everyone, but if you are feeling fit and decide to dial up your daily hopping routine, keep in mind these guidelines from the study:

• Warm up before each session

• Begin with very low hops and jump higher as you can over the weeks

• Start with just a few one-legged hops a day and work up to 5 sets of 10 hops at a time

• Resting between sets at least 15 seconds, walking in place a bit

• Hold a chair for balance if necessary

• As you get stronger make the hops multidirectional. This multi-directionality loads and strengthens different parts of the hip

• As you gain strength, hop as high and as fast as you can

Let me know your thoughts and your plan to keep hopping one way or another.

 

References:

Alison, Sarah. The influence the Hip-Hop of exercise on 3D distribution of cortical and a trabecular bone across the proximal femur: The Hip-Hop Study. ASBMR Abstract 1013, 2014 Annual Meeting, Houston, Tx Sept. 12, 2104.

Allison, Sarah. High impact exercise increased femoral neck bone mineral density in older men: A randomized unilateral intervention. Bone, 53 (2013):321-328.

 

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We created the Better Bones blog as our forum to express opinions and educate the public about natural means of supporting and improving bone health and overall wellness. As part of this forum, we sometimes discuss medical issues and medications, and their effects on bone health in general. However, we cannot advise readers about specific medical issues in this forum. If you wish to obtain advice from Susan E. Brown, PhD, about your specific bone health and nutritional concerns, please visit our Consultations page. Other specific medical questions should be referred to your healthcare provider.

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March 4. 2015 12:12

Debra Perkins

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