I want to share a terrific article explaining the benefit of high-impact exercise. I have had countless patients ask me if it is best to continue running and participating in other high-impact exercises or if it would be better to cut back and strictly embrace more gentle types of exercise; this article certainly makes a case for the former and I talk with my patients frequently about its findings and recommendations.
This article by Gretchen Reynolds provides a compelling argument as to why we should continually participate in exercises that jar our bodies. I've summarized its content below.
A study by researchers at the University of Bristol found that athletes who experienced impacts of 4.2 G's or greater had significantly sturdier hipbones than athletes who did not participate in exercises that reached that threshold. Exercises that generate enough force to achieve 4.2 G's include running a 10-minute mile or jumping up onto and off of a box that is 15 inches or higher. This study compels me to encourage all of my patients, especially my patients who are in their forties, fifties, and beyond, to pound the ground in order to strengthen their bones and (hopefully) prevent fragility fractures such as hip fractures.
Another study found that after four months of high-impact jump training (simply hopping in place), hip bone mineral density (BMD) could be improved in premenopausal women by jumping 10 or 20 times, twice daily, with 30 seconds of rest between each jump. This is exciting news for anyone looking to optimize their bone health and prevent injury organically through exercise.
As always, it is best to consult your physician before initiating a new exercise program and certainly this is the case with older individuals seeking to start a high-impact exercise program as the stress required to improve bone health may be too much for certain individuals' bodies and bones to handle, at least initially. This caveat also applies to those of us with joint troubles including arthritis.