Tips from Peter Cottontail: hopping as exercise

A bunny (perhaps Peter Cottontail...) hopping down a bunny trail

It’s Easter Sunday, which for many Protestants, Catholics and other Christians, means the culmination of a long season of Lenten observance and a full week of church services.  I am among those folks, and really enjoy the season and its metaphors of rebirth and renewal.  I’ve written about it in an Easter blog post here.

But the more secular features of Easter– namely the bunnies and all their happy hopping– have got me thinking.  Maybe they have something to offer for novelty-needing fitness-valuing feminists like you and me.  Yes, bunnies certainly hop for fun:

3 bunnies on green grass viewed from the rear, two hopping.

3 bunnies on green grass viewed from the rear, two hopping.

 

But they hop for sport as well:

A brown bunny jumping over a blue and white barrier on a bunny show-jumping course

A brown bunny jumping over a blue and white barrier on a bunny show-jumping course

This looks like work to me.  I mean, look how much air this bunny got while hopping over what looks like a rather high jump:

A white bunny with black feet and ears, jumping over a high jump

A white bunny with black feet and ears, jumping over a high jump

Apparently bunny show jumping is a thing.   Am I just late to this party?  Well, better late than never.

So it occurred to me:  is hopping something that we, the humans, might do well to incorporate into our fitness lives?  The answer is, well, maybe. There was a study done on men over 65 that found increased bone density after 2 minutes of hopping a day.

The Hip Hop study, which measured the effect of daily hopping exercises in 34 men over 65, has shown bone density in the hopping leg improved after just one year.

Increases of up to 7% were identified in the bone mass of some parts of the outer shell (cortex) and in the density of the layer of spongy bone underneath this. Importantly, there were improvements in the thinnest areas of the bone most at risk of fracture after a fall. 

I have no idea why they limited their study to men, but I’m happy to report that as of January 2017, the research group at Loughborough University were soliciting female volunteers for the study.  I await their results with interest.

Hopping is actually a part of a bunch of physical activities– plyometrics incorporate explosive jumps in many different combinations.  When you look at the how-to information, though, it seems pretty daunting to me.  They use lots of words like explosive, maximum, vertical jump, propel, and injury.  This site illustrates the exercises using exclusively men in technical-looking gyms, which I admit totally puts me off (your reactions may vary, of course).

But then I thought:  hey, what about hopscotch?  It’s a hopping activity, and lots of us grew up doing this.  And if you didn’t, it’s easy to learn.  Of course, if you want a guide to “the Hopscotch Workout” that uses a lot of those same words as the plyometric site did, you can look here.  However, hopscotch is easier and more fun than these how-to guides make it seem.  Here’s what I think of when someone mentions hopscotch:

A kid in sneakers and red socks and blue patterned leggings playing hopscotch

A kid in sneakers and red socks and blue patterned leggings playing hopscotch

This image also made it seem pretty appealing:

A woman dressed in pink, wearing a white hat, playing hopscotch in a park

A woman dressed in pink, wearing a white hat, playing hopscotch in a park

In case you’ve forgotten how to play, here are the instructions.  It’s fun with two or more, but you can also play it solo.  Or you can see if you can break the world record for hopscotch playing, which happens to be 381– set in September, 2014, by the Portland, Oregon Big Brothers Big Sisters Northwest Columbia club.  Here they are:

 

World record hopscotch activity in Portland, Oregon

World record hopscotch activity in Portland, Oregon

So if you’re feeling a little bored with your current activities, how about get hopping?  I just might.

What other hopping activities do you do?  I’m interested in expanding my hopping opportunities, so let me know.

Happy Hopping and Happy Easter!

 

Gray-haired man and woman jumping in the air on a beach with blue sky in the background

Gray-haired man and woman jumping in the air on a beach with blue sky in the background

 

 

 

 

 

About catherine w

I'm an analytic philosopher, retooled as a public health ethicist. I'm interested in heath behavior change, particularly around eating and activity, and how things other than knowledge affect our health decisions.I'm also a cyclist (road, off-road, commuter), squash player, x skier, occasional yoga-doer, hiker, swimmer and leisurely walker.

2 thoughts on “Tips from Peter Cottontail: hopping as exercise

  1. terrymueller says:

    I’ve been trying to unsubscribe from this blog. Yet, when I go to WordPress they don’t have this email address listed or your blog. Is there some way you can take me off your list please? Thanks. I’m just getting way too many emails.

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