Banking Bone

‘Banking’ bone: Building bone density in 20 jumps per day

One of the most impressive properties of the human body is its ability to respond and change, based on the stresses we place upon it. For example: muscle becomes stronger with resistance training, lung capacity improves with running, and calluses develop with repeated friction to the skin. Every tissue in our body has this ability. Bone is no different. It is a living tissue that is constantly changing based on the forces applied to it.

Bones are loaded by weight bearing and high- impact activities such as running, hiking, and jumping. Like any other tissue, when bone is loaded beyond what it is used to, it responds in a predictable way—in this case with improved density.

Osteoporosis is referred to as ‘a pediatric disease with geriatric consequences,’– as research is now revealing the importance of being active and building strong bones throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Maximum bone development occurs between the ages of 11 and 17 and reaches its peak at about age 25, and then slowly starts to decrease around age 35. An excellent analogy of this is the ‘bone bank’ – meaning the more bone you save up in the bank during youth, the more bone you have to draw from later in life.

This idea prompted a study, published in the American Journal of Health promotion. The authors studied the effects of jumping on 60 premenopausal women, ages 25-50, doing 10 or 20 jumps, twice per day for 16 weeks. They found that after 4 months, both groups demonstrated a significant improvement bone density, measured at the hips. The 10 jump group improved density .5% — which may not sound like much until you consider that the controls in the study lost about 1.3% of their bone density over the same period. Women were instructed to jump as high as they could from the floor, and were not wearing shoes for the study.

The author summarized the results in this way

“Our study showed significant benefits over time,” says Dr. Tucker. “Women have to do the jumps daily to get the benefits. In addition, keep in mind, as women age it’s more and more difficult to improve bone density.” You should be jumping 10 times a day, twice a day—even if you go for a daily jog. “Running and jogging have less impact on bone density because of the repeated bone stress,” says Dr. Tucker. If you’ve been more sedentary than active most of your life, you may still be able to regain bone strength. “However, the earlier in life a woman stresses her bones, the more benefits she will likely see,” says Dr. Tucker.

1.Am J Health Promot. 2015 Jan-Feb;29(3) Effect of two jumping programs on hip bone mineral density in premenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Tucker LA, Strong JE, LeCheminant JD, Bailey BW.

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