Jump for joy – mini trampolines bouncing back

Mini trampolines bouncing back

You may not be familiar with rebounding. It had its heyday back in the mid-80s when a significant NASA study came out to indicate some of the many health benefits that bouncing on a mini trampoline can confer. Rebounding is making a comeback as an effective exercise modality as it has been shown to be more than twice as effective as running on a treadmill.

The NASA study which was accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 1980 found that when astronauts were tested running on a treadmill, the G-forces measured at the ankle were over twice that of the forces at the back and the head.

This meant that the leg and foot absorbs much of the force when running and therefore contributes to higher rates of foot, shin and knee problems.

On a rebounder (mini trampoline) the G-force was almost identical at the ankle, the back and the head and at a lower level than the measured force at the ankle on the treadmill. It was concluded that rebounding exercises the entire body without undue pressure on the feet, knees or legs.

Another result of the NASA study pointed to the oxygen uptake. The increased G-force in rebounding means you get more benefit with less oxygen used and less heart exertion. The greatest difference between trampoline rebounding and treadmill running was 68 percent, meaning a significantly increased oxygen uptake.

An important finding coming from the same NASA study can be useful to those who are immobilized after surgery or illness or a fall. Researchers concluded that rebounding can avert the de-conditioning that occurs during immobilization of bed rest (or space flight) and can be beneficial at a cellular level.

One of the major benefits is its capacity to increase bone mass. Astronauts lose extensive amounts of bone mass in the weightlessness of space, but anyone who does not exercise in weight bearing activity also is in danger of losing significant bone mass as well as muscle mass. The G-forces generated in jumping on a trampoline increase the weight supported by the skeleton and therefore increases bone density.

Rebounding is unique because it uses the forces of acceleration and deceleration, and each body cell must react to that movement. The up and down movement is purported to be beneficial to the lymphatic system as it also moves in a vertical direction in the body. Studies have indicated that the increased G-forces help increase lymphocyte activity, and therefore rebounding is promoted as an immune boosting activity.

Dr. James White director of research and rehabilitation in the physical education department of the University of California at San Diego notes that rebounding allows muscles to go through the full range of motion at equal force and it helps people shift their weight properly and to be aware of body position and balance.

He adds that when individuals jump, jog or twist on the rebounder you can exercise for extensive periods of time without fatigue. He opines that the conditioning is particularly useful for those engaged in skiing, tennis, and activities where balance and co-ordination are important and it also is a very good way to burn calories and lose excess body fat.

Aside from all the clinically substantiated benefits, rebounding is fun. It is generally recommended to begin by doing about 15 minutes initially and work your way up from there. You want to get a good quality rebounder. The more expensive ones have better springs in them, but even the top-quality rebounders are only about $80. Mini Trampolines are convenient and don’t take up much room and as they confer both aerobic and weight bearing benefits they are a very effective form of exercise modality.

The use of a rebounder can ward off osteoporosis, improve aerobic capacity, reduce body fat, improve balance, and co-ordination, agility, endurance and strength as well as improve the immune system. Writers Guyton and Hall in The Textbook of Medical Physiology note that the lymphatic pump becomes very active during exercise, often increasing lymph flow 10 to 30 times.

Those who train with me have often noted how I encourage them while “resting” in between sets to gently run on the spot or bounce on the stability ball. A study published by the Institute for Aerobics Research noted that 30 seconds of running in between exercise stations dramatically improved aerobic endurance by 17 percent and reduced body fat percentages by 10 to 17 percent in 12 weeks as well as increased strength by 26 percent in the same 12-week time period.

I highly advocate rebounders as an effective means to achieve an increased fitness level. For those who have been inactive for a long time or for those who have balance issues, get a rebounder with guard rails so that you can exercise safely. Aloha!


Dr. Jane Riley, Ed.D., is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-8119 cell/text and www.janerileyfitness.com.


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