Hop To It: Part One- Stronger Bones

This is part one of two posts on Hopping and Jumping to get stronger.  Today I look at these movements for building stronger bones.  Tomorrow-I go a little further and talk about using these movements to build balance and a stronger brain.

Many of you have probably already heard of the NYT article by Gretchen Reynolds or the JAMA report on bone health Reynolds discusses.  In both, a surprising conclusion was reached: the exercises we have been told will build bone health may not be working.

The timing of this article was perfect for me.  I have just had a bone density test which showed that inspite of all my weight training and taking the recommended calcium supplements, I have osteopenia in my lower spine.

Time to take further action to get more calcium on those vertebrae before things get really serious.

For those who haven’t read these articles, the conclusion was:

In the meantime, the current state-of-the-science message about exercise and bone building may be that, silly as it sounds, the best exercise is to simply jump up and down, for as long as the downstairs neighbor will tolerate. “Jumping is great, if your bones are strong enough to begin with,” Dr. Barry says. “You probably don’t need to do a lot either.” (If you have any history of fractures or a family history of osteoporosis, check with a physician before jumping.) In studies in Japan, having mice jump up and land 40 times during a week increased their bone density significantly after 24 weeks, a gain they maintained by hopping up and down only about 20 or 30 times each week after that.

So it looks hopping to it may be one of the steps I take to rebuilding some of that bone in my back. (additionally, I’ve increased my intake of vitamin D).

What ways can we go about adding hopping to our workouts?

Today I truly wish that the PUNK ROPE movement had a class in the bay area. I’ve written before about adding fun and play to workouts and I’ll admit that I got that inspiration by reading about PUNK ROPE and watching their videos:

Punk Rope Salutes March Madness 3-31-09 from Tim Haft on Vimeo.

The play ground meets the class workout- perfect idea and with rope jumping added to the mix, my spine would be a happy camper. Tim and I have chatted and emailed about a class in the bay area, but we haven’t been able to make it happen yet.  Here’s hoping someday soon.

Yes, I simply choose to start jumping rope in my workouts to keep my heart rate up- but that doesn’t sound nearly as much fun, does it?

So until Tim can get to San Francisco or I can meet him in NYC- how else can I add jumping or hopping to my workouts?

Plyometrics is the part of fitness that develops muscle power through movement.  For the moment, I will looking to add several plyometric exercises to my routine-mixing them in as part of a superset of exercises.

For example:

Instead of my stand-by lunges to a military press, I can substitute standing military press and jumping split squats.  I already do step ups – by stepping off on one foot and hitting the landing, I will add some additional force training to the mix.

There are plenty of plyo variations to keep me from getting bored.

As it turns out, these exercises do more than simply work on building moving power.  They challenge balance and may work to build stronger connections in the brain.

I’ll talk about that next.

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2 responses to “Hop To It: Part One- Stronger Bones

  1. Jumping Jacks I can do, and they wear me out. But “real” high jumps bother my knees.

  2. Fantastic post, I bookmarked your blog so I can visit again in the near future, Thanks

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