Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
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16 January 2007 PR 07/04

More enthusiastic hoppers required!

More volunteers are needed by Loughborough University to take part in a research project, which aims to discover if simple hopping exercises can help increase bone density.

 

The study, by the Department of Human Sciences, was launched last year to investigate a drug-free way of delaying the onset of osteoporosis in women; a condition where bone mass is lost, leaving bones fragile and susceptible to fracture.

It has already been proven that exercise can increase bone density and so help to reduce the risk of fractures in later life. However, not just any kind of exercise works. The most effective types are those that exert high forces on the skeleton – such as jumping or hopping (although these types of activity may not be suitable for older people or those who already have osteoporosis).

Research student Chrissie Bailey
demonstrates the hopping routine

For the Loughborough project a group of pre-menopausal women were recruited and asked to perform 50 hops on the same leg for a specified number of times each week over a period of six months. Various measurements of bone properties, such as mass and density, muscle strength and balance were taken at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the study.

Initial findings from the research suggest that over the course of the study there was an increase in bone density at certain areas of the hip and at the heel of the leg that underwent the hopping exercises, whereas no significant change was observed in the ‘untrained’ leg. The hopping exercise also resulted in improved muscle function and balance, both of which are important determinants in preventing falls that can cause bone fractures in the first place.

Speaking about the first phase of the research, project supervisor, Dr Katherine Brooke-Wavell said: “Comparing the two legs of the same individual has enabled us to ensure that any observed changes in bone over the course of the year have been caused by the exercise and not by any other influencing factor like diet or hormones.

“The results we have had so far have been very promising, but in order to strengthen the implications of these findings we need to recruit more volunteers. Their input will help us to establish the optimum frequency of exercise required to increase bone density at key weight-bearing sites, and ultimately to develop advice for women on how to delay the onset of osteoporosis.”

If you are a woman between the ages of 18 and 45, capable of hopping for a few minutes each week, and are interested in finding out more about your own bone health, please contact Dr Brooke-Wavell on 01509 222749 or Christine Bailey on 01509 228159.

ENDS

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Notes to editors

  1. A copy of the above picture can be obtained from the Public Relations Office, T 01509 222224.
  2. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough in the top five among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

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