Osteoporosis and Exercise: Part Three

If you haven’t read part two of this blog series, click here!

Plyometrics & Bone Health

Training for power involves exerting force at greater speeds than what we’d see in a traditional strength training setting.  This can involve any combination of jumping, bounding, and throwing, as well as any exercise in which you’re moving a relatively light weight as quickly and explosively as you can.  At Paragon, we believe that power is an essential component of a well-rounded fitness program for a variety of reasons, but one of the lesser talked-about benefits of training in this fashion is the impact that certain types of power exercises can have on bone health. 

One category of power training which has been shown to be particularly helpful for bone health is known as plyometrics.  Plyometrics involve variations of jumps that involve repeated, rapid, and forceful shortening and lengthening actions of major muscle groups.  Take jumping rope as an example:  As you jump, the muscles of your foot and lower leg must quickly contract in order to get you off the ground.  Upon landing, those same muscle groups must yield to the force of your body weight and then, in as little time as possible, contract again in order to propel you off the ground before the rope swings back around.  This rapid stretch-shortening cycle, as well as the actual impact of your body leaving and then landing on the ground, seems to be particularly effective at promoting bone health across multiple age groups.

Studies have shown improved bone mineral density in adolescent girls after 9 months of lower body plyometric training, while a 2018 systematic review showed that when adults performed plyometric training, improvements in bone mineral density were often observed.  This systematic review was particularly interesting as it studied both males and females and looked at multiple types of plyometrics including: jumping, bounding, and hopping, and the mean ages of the participants ranged from 59 to 79 years old.  This review provides us a framework to understand that the benefits of moving explosively isn’t limited to athletic performance training:  people of all ages and ability levels can benefit from this type of training.If you’re new to plyometrics, I’d suggest starting easy and with a relatively low volume.  Start with basic, low level exercises such as pogo hops or jumping rope before progressing into more challenging, higher impact exercises such as jumping and bounding.  Plyometrics are a much different type of stress compared to typical strength or cardio exercises, so you’ll want to start with 1 or 2 sets of 5 to 10 reps, performed 1-2 times per week.  Once you get a feel for how your body will respond to this type of training, you can increase the number of sets performed per session, as well as the frequency. 

The next part of this series will discuss the impacts of strength training on bone health. Stay tuned!

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