The only time I got to see a trampoline were either in a circus or in a children’s playground. So, I never thought about it until I passed by a new business near where I live. It is a new fitness facility that uses trampolines to do exercises, which got me to thinking. What health benefits are there in using a trampoline and rebounding?
As usual, to answer that question, I dove into the cyberspace to find the answers. Rather than taking everything posted as gospels, I decided to dig a little deeper. After all, if there are real health benefits, then there must be scientific studies.
Hold on, is it possible for anyone not to know what a trampoline is?
I did not think so too.
But see, because most of us have never had any experience rebounding on a trampoline, we tend to ignore it. For that reason, we could be missing out on the health benefits it provides.
Perhaps a decade or two ago, a convenient excuse is that lack of availability or access to one. But nowadays, it seems that trampolines are becoming a mainstream sporting good.
The Difference Between Trampolines and Rebounders
I think it is fair to say that my attitude and knowledge of trampolines reflect the majority of people. Until I started reading up, I did not realize that trampolines and rebounders are not the same. Both are similar in that people could jump and bounce on it, but that is where the similarities end.
Trampolines are for recreational purposes and exercise. They are larger than rebounders and are usually in a fixed location. Because of the larger size, it is possible to do tumbling workouts and stunts.
Rebounders, also known as mini-trampolines, are smaller in size. It has a more specific use in rebounding aerobics and exercise routines. Due to its smaller size, it is easy to bring from one place to another.
Despite the differences, both trampolines and rebounders affect the body in the same way. In other words, the forces that cause positive physiological changes to our body are the same.
The World Knows About the NASA Study
Perhaps the one exercise that anyone could do almost anywhere is running. In fact, the sports apparel and footwear of runners is a part of a staggering global $270B industry. But what runners do not know is that rebounding is better, according to a research study by NASA.
Reference: Body acceleration distribution and O2 uptake in humans during running and jumping. Journal of Applied Physiology Published 1 November 1980 Vol. 49 no. 5, 881-887.
In the 1980 study, the key findings of the study are:
1. For the same heart rate and oxygen consumption, the biomechanical stimuli are greater with jumping.
2. For the same level of oxygen uptake, the work output is higher when jumping on trampolines.
3. As long as G-force remains less than 4-G’s, oxygen consumption is twice more efficient than running on treadmills.
4. The G-force has a more even distribution at the ankle, back, and forehead. The G-force at the ankle while running is more than twice that of the other points.
Based on this study, two things come to mind.
One is that rebounding on trampolines appear to induce more health benefits than running. But that is not to take away the health benefits of running.
Another thing that comes to mind is the relative obscurity of the other studies. In almost all reference I found, most refer to the same study. In 3 years, this study will be celebrating its 40th year anniversary.
The Health Benefits of Rebounding
Jumping or rebounding on trampolines or rebounders is a physical activity. Any physical exercise does offer health benefits, so there is no question about that. But exactly what kind and how much of a benefit, that is dependent on research studies. Unfortunately, there are not enough studies on this subject.
In the absence of a specific study, how then could anyone come up with tens of benefits?
Let me introduce to you the concept of direct benefits and secondary benefits. As a result of rebounding, the positive physiological changes are the direct benefits. Secondary benefits are the results of the direct benefits.
Research Shows the Health Benefits of Jumping on Trampolines
I could list all conceivable health benefits rebounding. But that would defeat the purpose of finding research-back benefits. So, what I have here are all the research I could find, and if you happen to know more, let me know.
Reference: Effect of different types of exercise on postural balance in elderly women: A randomized controlled trial. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. 2014 Nov-Dec; 59(3): 506-14.
Through gentle and supervised rebounding exercises, this study concludes elder women were less wobbly. The same results also occurred for women who completed standard balance training.
Reference: Changes in blood glucose among trained normoglycemic adults during a mini-trampoline exercise session. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 2016 Dec; 56(12):1547-1553. Epub 2016 Jan 20.
Researchers found evidence that certain mini-trampoline exercises help control and reduce blood glucose levels.
Reference: Effects of a mini-trampoline rebounding exercise program on functional parameters, body composition and quality of life in overweight women. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 2016 Jul 21.
Researchers observed the significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in this study. They also found improvements in lipid and glucose profiles. So, they concluded that mini-trampoline exercises have positive effects on overall health, including overweight women.
Reference: A comparison between the effects of aerobic dance training on mini-trampoline and hard wooden surface on bone resorption, health-related physical fitness, balance, and foot plantar pressure in Thai working women. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand. 2015 Sep; 98 Suppl 8: S58-64.
In this study, researchers not only observed improvements in leg muscular strength. They also found balance and foot plantar pressure were better than on hard surfaces.
Reference: Does mini-trampoline training more effective than running on body weight, body fat, VO2 max and vertical jump in young men? International Journal of Sports Science. p-ISSN: 2169-8759, e-ISSN: 2169-8791. 2016; 6(1): 1-5.
Running helps reduce fat in the body, there is no doubt about that. But rebounding is more efficient in doing so, according to this research. At the same time, it also increases maximal oxygen consumption. Furthermore, the healthy male participants in this study also have improvements on vertical jumping.
Reference: Effect of a trampoline exercise on the anthropometric measures and motor performance of adolescent students. International Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2016 Jul 13; 7:91.
This research involves 11-14-year old students and shows significant reduction of fats. Also, trampoline exercises did promote the level of health and motor performance.
The Other Benefits Are Myths
A quick search shows a lot of articles on other health benefits. For example, one of the most common benefits the increase in lymphocyte activity. Unfortunately, the basis for this assumption is two studies almost four decades ago.
In my opinion, these studies do not prove that rebounding has an effect on lymphocyte activity. Those two studies on hypogravity and hypergravity are not the same as the G-force exertion using trampolines. Hence any claims as a result of better lymphatic function have no basis.
If there are other health benefits, then it is most likely consistent with the benefits of general physical activities.
The Dangers of Jumping on Trampolines and Rebounders
Like any physical activities, jumping on trampolines come with risks. What comes to mind immediately is falling on the wrong spot and hurting one’s self. It is also possible to suffer injuries because of improper posture during jumps.
As I searched for benefits in the science publications, what I found it surprising this. There are only a handful of studies on the benefits, while there are hundreds of studies on the dangers and injuries.
Does that mean one should not jump on a trampoline to avoid injuries?
The best way to reap the health benefits and have fun at the same time is to learn the proper way of doing it. Another way to avoid injuries is to know the common injuries. Prevention is about knowing what to avoid, right?
Here are references on trampoline safety:
Picking the Right Trampoline
There is another common cause of injuries, and that is using the wrong trampoline. Even worse, an inferior product with structural defects and design flaws can lead to accidents. For that reason, picking the right trampoline is as important as learning how to safely use one.
Here is a great infographic from Trampolinea that has everything you need to know if you are considering buying one.
For the sake of putting up contents, there are those who will write anything without facts. At the same time, it is in the best interest of businesses to promote their brands and products. Because of that, people are realizing that anything on the Internet should be taken with a grain of salt.
I realize that hence on posts like this, the only way I could provide value to readers is to put in the time to do research. Furthermore, add the references here so that anyone reading would be guided accordingly.
Trampoline and rebounders are a great fun and physical activity that offers health benefits. But anything that comes with physicality, there are risks of injuries.
By taking the time to self-educate and if possible, seek guidance, the risks are kept to a minimum.