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Jump for your balance: study on falls among post-menopausal women

It might sound slightly counterintuitive at first, but Victorian researchers are suggesting that jumping might be key to helping reduce falls among post-menopausal women with osteoporosis.

Key to this suggestion is the potential benefits of ‘neuromuscular power’.

Published in Osteoporosis International, their study looked at 63 women with low bone mass at their spine or hip. The research team tested participants, aged 57 to 74 years, on their ability to jump, stand on one leg and try to keep their balance on both stable and unstable surfaces, their leg-press strength, calf-muscle size, and fat content.

Associate Professor Daniel Belavy from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University, said the team found that, more so than muscle strength or size, neuromuscular power was important for balance.

"Neuromuscular power is a measure of how quick, fast and hard, with intensity, that a person can move. For example, someone might have huge muscles and be strong, but they might not be able to use that quickly," Belavy said. "You can think of a boxer versus a body builder.”

Belavy said while postural training approaches have looked at strength training, his study suggested that explosive power training could be important to integrate into falls prevention and balance training programs in post-menopausal women with low bone mass.

"We all lose muscle power as we age, and it is important for post-menopausal women in particular to try and include some form of rapid, explosive muscular or movement training into their fitness routines," he said.

"If someone in the community wants advice on their exercise program, we recommend contacting a qualified exercise physiologist, and if someone also has some known health issues, we recommend contacting a qualified clinical exercise physiologist."

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