Why We Love to Bounce

John Hines 09.02.2022

Observations about fitness from the way kids play

 

Last fall, we celebrated the fifth birthday of one of my grandsons, Theo, with a pizza party at a trampoline park. I'd never been to one before, and as someone who's spent years researching mini-trampoline exercise, it was an eye-opener.

As everyone knows, children absolutely LOVE to bounce and, compared to adults, they can do it for an astonishingly long time. For example, during our three-hour birthday party, aside from maybe twenty minutes of cramming down pizza, juice, and birthday cake, the kids were constantly in motion; flying through the air or chasing each other in great leaps from one interconnected trampoline to another the entire time.

As the party progressed, we adults retreated, one-by-one, from the field of trampolines to the adjacent observation area and the comfort of folding chairs. In our defense, only an elite athlete in top condition would stand a chance of going bounce-for-bounce with those tireless, unrelenting four, five, and six-year-olds. Part of the genius of the trampoline park is that it allows even the most "hyper" kids to exert themselves as much as they like in an environment that's safe and unbreakable.

BOUNCING AND SWIMMING: SIMILAR ENJOYMENT, SIMILAR BENEFITS

During the party, the children's gleeful reaction to bouncing reminded me so much of the way children typically behave when they go swimming. In both cases, though a child may be tentative at first, especially if it's new to them, whatever hesitancy they may have is quickly replaced by unbridled joy, laughter, and giddiness. (When it was time to go, I observed another similarity: it's as hard for parents to get kids off of a trampoline as it is to get them out of a pool.)

All of which begs the question: is the similarity in the way children react to swimming and bouncing more than just coincidence? Though they are two very different activities, they produce strangely similar physical effects.

WHEN WE SWIM...

Swimming is considered one of the most efficient exercises, working just about every muscle in your body from head to toe. Adding weights for resistance is unnecessary, and not just because they'd make you sink, but because the resistance from the water is continuously pushing against your body, increasing muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Whether we're swimming or just splashing around, the buoyancy we feel when we're in the water is a big part of what makes the experience fun. Even when we're only partly submerged, the water displacement makes us feel lighter than we are, and when most of our body is under the surface, it can feel like flying.

 

WHEN WE BOUNCE...

Modern trampolines have only been around since the 1930s, and it took until the 1980s to introduce the smaller, indoor versions that we use for exercise. Though "rebounding exercise" is thousands of years younger than swimming, current research confirms that it's also one of the best, most complete, most efficient exercises you can do. In fact, one study published in the International Journal of Sports Science in 2016 showed that rebounding burns fat 50% faster than running and increases cardiovascular fitness more than twice as fast.

Rebounding is also like swimming in that it engages every muscle in your body by using a form of natural resistance. Instead of water, a trampoline uses the gravitational forces created when you bounce to create resistance. A typical bounce can produce as much as two or three times normal gravitation at its lowest point and weightlessness at its peak. So, just like swimming, bouncing makes you feel euphoric, like you could fly, making it much more enjoyable than most other workouts.

FUN MEETS FITNESS

So, why do children get so deliriously happy when they swim and bounce? Because, unlike adults, they have more physical energy than they know what to do with: children aren't looking for ways to conserve energy; they're looking for the most efficient ways to expend it.

Kids love to swim and bounce because both are so entirely physically engaging, which is the exact reason that adults benefit so much from them.

Adults looking for a fast-track to fitness need to take note: rebounding provides the best, most complete total-body home fitness experience you can get...and costs a lot less than installing a pool.

Best of all, bouncing is fun, whatever your age. When you combine child-like delight with ultra-effective fitness, the sky's the limit.

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A NOTE FOR PARENTS:

Though children love to bounce, they don't have the cognitive development to understand that if they attempt to perform a flip or dismount by leaping from a mini-trampoline, they're probably going to get hurt. In fact, the human brain's frontal cortex, the area responsible for making wise decisions, isn't fully mature until the age of 25. (Which explains why, until recently, nobody under 25 could rent a car.)

When using a bellicon with children, be sure they always have adult supervision. We also recommend that you store your bellicon when not in use so that children won't be tempted to use it on their own.

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