Two minutes of hopping a day can strengthen hip bones in older people and reduce the risk of fracture after a fall, scientists have suggested.
A study led by Loughborough University in the United Kingdom showed bone density in the hopping leg improved after just one year.
Bones thin naturally with age, and localised thinning in the hip is associated with an increased risk of hip fracture with researchers saying their findings have major implications for the prevention and management of osteoporosis, which affects around three million people in the UK.
The study found increases of up to seven per cent were identified in the bone mass of some parts of the outer shell (cortex) and in the density of the layer of spongy bone underneath this.
Importantly, there were improvements in the thinnest areas of the bone most at risk of fracture after a fall.
The Hip Hop study involved 34 men, aged between 65 and 80, performing a program of hopping exercises on a randomly assigned exercise leg only.
They were told to avoid any other changes to their physical activity or dietary habits during the year-long trial.
CT scans were then analysed to detect any changes in their bone density and showed clear visual differences between the exercise and control legs.
‘‘Hip fractures are a major public health concern among older adults, incurring both high economic and social costs,’’ Sarah Allison, who conducted the research, said.
‘‘We know exercise can improve bone strength and so we wanted to test a form of exercise that is both easy and quick for people to achieve in their homes.’’
Researchers said it was important to build up any exercise gradually, and hop with caution as falling could cause a fracture in someone with weak bones.