Researchers find three simple and common exercises to maintain bone health
Just six minutes of exercise a week can help women prevent fragile bones caused as a result of the menopause, new research suggests.
Women lose around 1 to 2% of bone mass every year for up to five years after menopause and is a huge cause of osteoporosis in women.
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break – a disease that costs the NHS over £9 million a day to treat.
Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Hull have been investigating how simple and short exercises at home can prevent or slow down this process. They found that a high-impact but simple exercise, such as jumping, could help.
Just two minutes of these exercises, three times a week could have a major influence on bone health – but it is important to get the exercises right, results published in the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology show.
Dr Gallin Montgomery, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Biomechanics at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “The statistics on osteoporosis are shocking. Around 50% of women over 50 will fracture a bone due to low bone density.
“Osteoporosis is most common in women post-menopause and exercise is one of the best ways to help or prevent it. The main barriers to exercise that women reported were time and access, so the aim of this research was to find a quick and easy way women can exercise in the comfort of their home to help prevent osteoporosis as best we can.
“With that we hope that we can reduce these figures and maintain bone health in women.”
Researchers tested several high-impact exercises in healthy, early post-menopausal women, including countermovement jumps, box-drops, heel-drops and stamps.
Participants wore a device to test the impact on bones and activity in the muscles while jumping. Some completed one jump every four seconds and others completed one jump every 15 seconds – and each variation could be beneficial for maintaining bone health.
Dr Montgomery added: “We found that countermovement jumps were most beneficial for women as this had the highest muscle activation along with the highest impacts, which are really important for bone health. Box-drops and heel-drops were also beneficial but stamp movements were not recommended as the impacts were not sufficient.
“These movements are really easy and can be completed in the comfort of your own home. It would only take women seven minutes using the longer rest time and two minutes with the shorter rest time to complete.
“Often, just walking is not enough for bone health and we hope that this encourages more women to perform high-impact exercise and go some way in combatting the issue.”
Researchers recommend women complete 30 jumps, three times a week.