I love reading exercise related research studies because they so often prove the really obvious stuff. They certainly come out with some genuinely shocking news from time to time, but often it is verifying things that would seem rather obvious to most of us. This is a good thing since we shouldn’t blindly accept an idea, but I do find it entertaining to say the least. A recent study had this awesome headline “Exercise may reverse age-related bone loss in middle-aged men“. The study that was completed at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that “certain types of weight-lifting and jumping exercises, when completed for at least six months, improve bone density in active, healthy, middle-aged men with low bone mass. These exercises may help prevent osteoporosis by facilitating bone growth, according to the study published in Bone.”
If you think about it, anytime you add weight bearing to a specific bone set you will improve it’s bone density (consistently over time). It seems rather obvious, but it’s nice to see that they tracked this and found it to be true. The great thing for us, jump rope is an awesome “jumping exercise”! Regardless of where you are at in life, adding a jump rope segment to your workout will aid in keeping your bones healthy. Depending on how you do it, could potentially even increase your bone density. We so often get fixated on the cardiovascular benefits of jumping rope (of which there are many), but it’s nice to see that we are getting so much more. Most jumping exercises get rather boring in a hurry, jump rope takes that boredom out because we have so much variety we can add. Even as a beginner you can focus on footwork skills like the skier, bell, side straddle and forward straddle. As you progress you can start into crossing and multiple unders. When you add power tricks into the mix (like a push-up or frog) you will even see benefits in your arms.
If you take the time to learn a variety of skills, you have the ability to help almost every bone in your body. If your concern is helping your arms, I would suggest focusing on Double Dutch as you tend to spend more time on the ground doing push-ups and other power tricks. If you really want to hammer away at your legs, try learning some of the Basic and Advanced Multiples. They will really give your bones a good pounding. The big thing to remember is that if you really want to see results, consistency is huge. You need to be jumping at least 60-120 minutes per week (less than 10 minutes per day if you are an underachiever) and they did have the guys taking Calcium and Vitamin D supplements (which would probably be a good idea if you have low bone mass anyways). Regardless of where you are at in your skill level, grab some milk (or your favorite pill), your rope and get jumping!