Bones mass declines with age. Bone loss and localised thinning at structurally important regions of the proximal femur (hip) can predispose to osteoporotic hip fractures.

This study examined the effects of exercise on bone in men aged over 65. We used hopping exercises, so we could compare changes in the exercised leg to those in the control leg. We carried out bone density scans, and also clinical CT scans so we could assess changes in the 3D structure of bone.

Although we would not recommend hopping exercise for people with osteoporosis, this study is important for demonstrating that brief exercises can improve bone density even in older people and further benefit bone strength.

The study was supported by a Medical Research Council interdisciplinary bridging award and a National Osteoporosis Society Innovative Award.

For further information on exercise for maintaining bone health, please visit:

Institutions / organisations and researchers

Loughborough University

University Hospitals Leicester

Sheffield University

Derby Hospitals NHS Trust

  • Dr Greg Summers

Cambridge University

  • Dr Ken Poole
  • Dr Graham Treece
  • Dr Andrew Gee


  • Bone mineral density at the femoral neck (hip) increased by about 2% in the exercise relative to the control leg.
  • Increases in bone mass were not uniform, but showed marked localised variation. The bone mapping technique developed by Cambridge collaborators demonstrated that there were increases of up to 7% in some parts of the outer shell (cortex) and in the density of the spongy bone underneath these.
  • Collaborative research with the Mellanby Bone Research Centre in Sheffield used mathematical models to estimate bone strength during a fall to the side. This increased in the exercise leg (but surprisingly, also in the control leg).