Jump for your health!

jump for your healthA fitter body is just a hop, skip and jump away.

We already know exercise stimulates bone formation (and even talked about it recently on our blog), but two recent studies have led scientists to conclude that jumping is the single best way to increase bone density.

In one study, researchers followed adolescents and measured their daily activity – in particular, the force of their actions. After a week, the scientists discovered that the teenagers who experienced higher impacts had sturdier hipbones. It’s possible to achieve the force needed to mimic these results by running a 10-minute mile or jumping up and down from a box at least 15 inches high.

Don’t worry if sprints don’t sound like an appealing addition to your exercise regimen. A study published in January found that a specific jumping routine provided greater bone-building benefits than running or jogging. Researchers asked premenopausal woman aged 25 to 50 to jump in place 10 times, twice a day, taking a 30-second break between each jump. After four months, these women increased their hip bone mineral density by 0.5 percent. That might not sound like much, but it’s a remarkable gain considering the control group lost about 1.3 percent of their bone density over the same time period.

If you want to improve your bone density and strength, this jumping routine couldn’t be easier to replicate. Just jump as high as you can off the floor – don’t wear shoes or use a box or pad – and do so daily to get the same benefit as the study’s participants.

And don’t think you’re limited to 20 jumps per day. While this routine is a great option for older adults or people with medical concerns, young and healthy folks shouldn’t be afraid to do more high-impact activities. We love to mix box jumps (a plyometric move in which you jump up and down from an elevated platform) and jumping rope into our daily workouts to toughen up our bones and improve our overall fitness at the same time. Not only do these moves improve bone health, they also strengthen your muscles, increase your vertical jump and protect your joints.

Real Simple has a great 15-minute jump rope workout, and Self offers one of the best box jump tutorials that we’ve found online. With the box jumps, we recommend 10 to 12 reps per session. We also challenge you to try the jumps with one leg at a time once you get comfortable with the basics.

Do you jump for good health? Share your go-to moves in the comments!



Photo credit: danorbit.

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