Bone strengthening options for seniors — power hopping

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:

hopOnleg

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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