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Fast Fitness: Jump for Stronger Bones!

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A not-so-fun fact of life is that our bones become weaker and prone to breaking as we get older. Of course, one way to minimize the toll age takes on your bones is to get plenty of exercise, especially the weight-bearing kind. That means activities such as walking, running, dancing and lifting weights. But why not try something different? Think back, in fact, to something you did a lot of it when you were a kid. Think jumping!

Jumping is remarkably effective at preserving bone density and even reversing loss. In a study published in American Journal of Health Promotion of premenopausal women ages 25 to 50, a 16-week program of 10 jumps twice a day (yes, literally jumping just 10 times!) not only preserved hip-bone density but also increased it by 0.5%.

And jumping benefits more than just your bones. It also improves muscle strength, reaction time and balance. Even better—it’s a simple exercise that you can do anywhere…and you don’t need any special equipment. In fact, you don’t even need shoes—the women in the study were barefoot!

DO THE BUNNY HOP

Even if you were a double-dutch champ as a kid, it’s a good idea to start small so you can get used to what it feels like to jump again. It’s also a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning a jumping routine—especially if you’ve been sedentary for a while, are very overweight, are older or have been told that you have osteoporosis or if you have any other health issue.

Are you ready? Let’s hop to it!

  • Stand in a doorway (so you can grab the frame for balance if you need to) with your feet hip-width or a bit farther apart. Now bend your knees slightly and take a tiny hop, keeping your knees soft so they bend as you land. Your feet should barely leave the floor, if at all—it’s OK to just rise up on the balls of your feet. Rest for 30 seconds, then take another tiny hop. (The rest is similar to the break weight lifters take between lifts, to allow the neuromuscular system to reset and be ready for the next effort.) Aim for up to 10 hops, resting 30 seconds between hops. Repeat daily until you can comfortably do 10 “bunny hops” twice a day, several days in a row.
  • When you’ve mastered bunny hops, try bigger jumps. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and your arms down at your sides and slightly behind you. Now jump straight up from both feet, at the same time swinging your arms up to head or chest level. Swinging your arms as you jump gives your body extra momentum for a higher jump. As you land in the same spot, bring your arms back down to your sides and keep your knees soft (slightly bent). Do 10 reps (switching to bunny hops at any point if you feel fatigued) twice a day, resting for 30 seconds between jumps.

Want to bump your jumping up another level—and add some fun? Use a jump rope! Read “Do-Anywhere Jump Rope Workout” for ways to get even more out of your jumping workout.

Here’s to happy jumping and stronger bones!

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Source: Amy Roberts, CPT, personal trainer and fitness writer based in New York City. She is certified as a personal trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), as a group fitness instructor by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and as a Senior Fitness Specialist by NASM, as well as a running coach by the USA Track and Field (USATF) and the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA). Date: January 10, 2018 Publication: Bottom Line Health
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