Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s trampoline’s were big business in exercise. I can remember my mum had a small step based one for light aerobic exercise, and I believe she even had a video that accompanied it. I don’t remember her ever actually using it, mainly because us kids seemed steal it off her and adopt it as a new toy. Trampolines are great fun for children, all that bouncing around using up all that energy kids have. Nowadays I notice an increasing number of households with massive trampolines in the back garden, seemingly there to help entertain the next generation.
My question is this; why should children have all the fun?
I’ve been called a big kid on numerous occasions, and I have a sneaky suspicion that not all were meant complimentary. However, when it comes to childlike activities bouncing on a trampoline isn’t as juvenile as you may think…
According to NASA scientists regular trampoline sessions provide an aerobic workout that is ‘the most efficient and effective exercise devised by man’. A bold and intriguing statement and one that requires further investigation.
When devising any workout session for clients I mainly look to cover two main bases; aerobic and muscular endurance.
An effective aerobic workout is an activity that increases the heart rate and makes you breathe harder and faster. An effective muscular endurance workout would be something that involves a large group of muscles (preferably full body in my opinion) to engage said muscles and force fatigue to break down muscle fibres and strengthen.
Can bouncing around on a trampoline (sound effects optional, but encouraged) achieve either or both of these things? The simple answer is YES!
The aerobic part should be fairly obvious. Bouncing up and down for a sustained period of time will of course get you breathing harder, in fact jumping on a trampoline for 10 minutes has been likened to running a mile. It’s similar in the way that skipping is one of the most effective forms of calorie burning; only using a trampoline is easier and will have less of an impact on joints.
Ok so we have you fitness covered, box ticked. Surely it can’t improve muscle endurance and therefore improve muscle tone?! After all, isn’t it just the mat that’s doing most of the work propelling us into the air?
Although the mat plays an essential part (durrr) in order to actually bounce your muscles will contract and detract accordingly, thus being forced to flex to support your airborne body and help you remain in control. It is this flexing that helps tone your muscles, especially your core.
Core strength comes from muscles in and around the back and abdomen, and is essential for balance, coordination and posture, as well as many other things. Core strength is developed through maintaining balance and control in the air during each bounce, and through contracting and bracing muscles during the ‘rebound’ stage of the jump to help propel yourself back into the air. This principle is naturally extended into the muscles in your legs, bum and arms as these are also key stabilisers for the trampoline ‘acrobatics’ I’m sure you will advance to over time.
One final benefit of note is that jumping exercises are known to help rouse the lymphatic system, which is part of our immune system that helps protect us from viruses and bacteria. So if your child is the proud owner of a trampoline, but claims to be too ill to go to school, maybe, just maybe it’s a cunning ploy to avoid the big test they have that day. My advice; pack them off to school and reclaim what’s rightfully yours… FUN!