Hopping (or jumping rope) on one foot for 2 minutes per day may reduce the risk of hip fracture.
Today they published a study that followed some over 65 year olds for one year to see how hopping on one leg would impact their bone density. They only had them hop on one leg for the year so they could measure the difference between the hips. They found “Bone mass increased by up to 7% in parts of the exercised hip’s outer shell or cortex. The results also showed increases in the density of the layer of spongy bone under the cortex. These effects were also seen in the thinnest areas of the hip bone – the parts that are most likely to suffer a fracture during a fall.”
I found this study kind of fun for a couple reasons. First, I would love to watch a bunch of old guys hopping on one leg (they did say that they weren’t sure if the same results would occur in women, but odds are that they would). Secondly, a number of my Guinness World Records titles are for hopping on one leg and it’s fun to postulate the increased bone mass I probably have in my left hip. Why my left? Due to an issue with my right shin, I am unable to hop more than about 30 seconds on my right leg. It doesn’t bother me much when I’m jumping on two feet, but it sure acts up when I try to jump rope on only my right foot. When I was training for the fastest mile hopping on one leg while jumping rope (try saying that 5 times fast) a number of people asked me if my left leg was getting bigger than my right. Even though I trained for a year hopping on my left leg, I still can’t see the difference between the two.
After reading this article, a rather obvious point I never thought about has crossed my mind. My muscles may not be bigger (though I can definitively state that they are better trained for endurance), but my bone mass is most likely thicker. I would guess not by a 7% margin since I jump rope pretty much everyday on both feet, but it most likely is thicker. I don’t know, but I find that kind of neat to think about. They said in the study that there were clear differences between the two hips when scanned. I really wonder what mine would look like.
How does this apply to you? Well, even if you’re not over 65, hopping or jumping is definitely something that has the potential to lower your risk of a break or fracture (now and in your twilight years). It’s quite well known that bones get thinner with age. One of the keys to avoiding a fracture (whether in your hip or bones) is to have some high impact activities that can increase bone strength. If you make it a habit earlier on in life, you will lower your risks of having an issue as you get older. This is especially true since we are living in a more sedentary society. If you spend most of your time sitting in front of a tv or computer, you really need to start adding some impact activities into your daily schedule.
In the study, they focused on hopping since they could then use the other leg as a control. They stated that jumping on both feet should also produce the results they saw. What’s one of the best forms of jumping? Jump Rope! If you don’t think you have the time here’s the best part:
You only need to jump rope 2 minutes per day!
That is all you need to do if you are concerned with trying to lower your fracture risk. One thing to note, they did teach the men in the study to do different motions while hopping to maximize the potential benefits. Check out our Footwork section because there are a ton of skills you can learn that will impact your hips in slightly different motions. I’ve put a couple ideas below in case you prefer reading. This will help you get the most benefit out of your bone strengthening workout! From a cardio standpoint, I recommend trying to increase your jumping time to at least 20 minutes, but make sure you do at least 2 minutes for your bones. You can do it in your garage or kitchen – no excuses!
Below are a few footwork steps that will impact your joints in slightly different positions
- Hopping on one leg – Try hopping on one foot for 5-10 jumps then switching feet
- Speed Step – This involves jogging from one foot to the other. Good variation on a hopping motion.
- Skier – Jump side to side.
- Bell – Jump forward and backward.
- Side Straddle – Feet apart sideways and back together.
- Forward Straddle – Feet apart forward/backward then switch feet.
This is a short list to get you started. Any of our footwork skills will help. If you need detailed instruction on how to do any of these jump rope skills check out our Single Rope Footwork Page.