“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” It’s a phrase you’ve heard in old commercials featuring helpless elderly women prostrate on the floor in an overdramatic fashion, one that’s often used now as the butt of a joke or uttered jokingly by kids across the nation. The commercials may be funny, and the phrase may be seen as a joke, but the reality of the situation is all too real.
We’re not invincible, and neither are our bodies. As we age so do the various parts of us, and the older we become the more fragile they become. Falls that didn’t phase us in our youth become much more dangerous in old age, injuries that seemed inconsequential at 20 become much more difficult to overcome at age 70. Even if our minds or our souls aren’t weakening, the tough reality is that our bodies are.
One of the greatest fears that people over a certain age begin to have is falling. The right fall, regardless of how far it is or how hard it is, can easily result in a serious injury. Hip fractures in particular are a huge public health concern among older adults. They’re expensive, and they also severely impact the social lives of those affected, who suffer things like pain, loss of independence and mobility, and increased risk of death.
Part of the reason these things happen is that our bones get thinner with age. In hip bones particularly, this causes localized thinning which is linked to higher risk of fracture, making these areas particularly prone to injury. For years doctors and scientists have been looking for things older patients can do to help strengthen these bones, and they’ve found a simple (and fun!) solution:
If you want to avoid unnecessary injuries, MRI’s, and x-rays, hop two minutes a day.
Loughborough University’s “Hip Hop Study”, which was covered in this article by Medical News Today (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299434.php), measured the effect of short time periods of daily hopping on bone density, showing that regular high impact exercise can in fact counteract the effect of aging to the bone.
Researchers invited men over the age of 65 to hop on one leg for 2 minutes every single day for a year. The men only hopped on one leg so that researchers could compare that leg’s progress with the leg that didn’t get additional exercise. The results were pretty crazy! There was a 7% increase in bone mass in parts of the hip’s outer shell on the leg participant’s hopped on, and there were also increases in the density layer of the hip’s spongy bone layer.
The thinnest areas of the hip bone, the ones most susceptible to fracturing, were the areas that saw the effects. Doctors were incredibly excited, and believe simple forms of exercise like hopping 2 minutes a day might go a long way towards preventing osteoporosis.
Aging is unpreventable, and as you grow older your bones will start to thin. Taking small steps like this, however, can help reverse some of the damages of old age on your body. Plus, let’s be honest, hopping is kind of fun! So go ahead and get to it!