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Hop, skip and jump to stay strong

January 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
As kids we jumped all over the place, but in our 20s and 30s, it became a forbidden move. Jumping is something adults don't typically do. Now, some health experts are saying we should. Everyone knows strong bones are vital to good health: aiding posture, overall performance, and injury prevention. Yet staying strong requires a bit of effort as we age. Weight bearing exercises, along with power moves like hopping, jumping, and plyometrics, help keep us strong and stable.

"It's very important because the bones are going to become more dense and resilient because of the impact that's created from jumping and landing," said fitness expert Steve Jordan. "When we jump research shows that a compressive force or force where you're actually working against gravity is going to help increase bone density."

Jumping also helps improve motor skills; increasing the nervous systems ability to recruit muscles at the right time. But Jordan warns that doesn't mean non- stop pounding. Movement varies with age and fitness level.

"There's a progression to every exercise," said Jordan. "Always check with your doctor before you get into any exercise program if you're not a healthy individual."

Those generally in good health should start slow and build from there.

"Hop over a little cone, or hop up onto a curb or just hop in place 10 times," said Jordan.

"I'm just trying to stay in enough shape and keep enough agility to keep playing, which is not easy at my age," said Gary Greenbaum.

At 63, Greenbaum knows it works. Jordan has him doing plyometrics to continue playing competitive lacrosse.

Jumping, leaping, and hopping are all tough on the body at any age, but in a good way. Whether you're playing lacrosse, avoiding a puddle, or simply trying to live life to the fullest, Jordan says jump on in.

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"When life is imposing a demand on you, [where] you have to hop, jump, or react, you're going to be able to do it more efficiently," said Jordan.

And since bone is accumulated the most rapidly during childhood, parents should encourage children to continue to leap, hop, and jump well into adult life.


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