Hopping can cut the risk of damage to bones
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 showed bone density in the hopping leg improved after just one year of the exercise.
Bones thin naturally with age, and localised thinning in the hip is associated with an increased risk of hip fracture.
Researchers said their findings have major implications for the prevention and management of osteoporosis, which affects many thousands of people in Ireland.
Increases of up to 7pc 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.
They said that, importantly, there were improvements in the thinnest areas of the bone most at risk of fracture after a fall.
The Hip Hop study saw 34 men aged between 65 and 80 perform a programme of hopping exercises on a randomly assigned exercise leg only. They were told to avoid any other changes to their physical activity and 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.
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.