Research confirms that mini-trampoline exercise offers extraordinary cardiovascular benefits
Everyone knows that cardiovascular exercise, also called “aerobic exercise” or just “cardio,” is essential for keeping healthy and fit, but what most people don’t know that using a mini-trampoline is probably the most effective way to do it. Though mini-trampoline exercise, or “rebounding,” has been around for decades, its growing popularity over the last few years has prompted new scientific research and revealed a surprising range of benefits, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular strength.
In a nutshell, cardio workouts are those that increase oxygen consumption and trigger your body’s aerobic metabolism to burn additional fats and carbohydrates to provide energy. This increased metabolic rate helps with weight control and boosts energy, but the overall effect of aerobic exercise is much more extensive. Cardio workouts strengthen the heart, increase lung capacity, improve stamina, lower blood pressure, maintain joint flexibility, control blood sugar levels, energize your immune system…and increase your life expectancy, for starters. Regular aerobic exercise even has a profound impact on aspects of our lives that may seem unrelated to physical fitness, like our mood, our sleep patterns and our ability to handle stress. In other words, it’s the closest thing we have to a magic bullet for physical and mental wellbeing.
We Americans don't get nearly enough exercise
The biggest problem with cardio exercise is that we don’t get nearly enough of it. In the past, before computers, video games, and continuous TV watching, we were much more physically active during the day, so regular exercise wasn’t a necessity. Unfortunately, our modern, sedentary lifestyle has had a devastating effect on everyone’s health. Unless we compensate for all this inactivity on a daily basis, we become vulnerable to a host of health issues from heart disease to obesity to many forms of cancer. To stay healthy and fit, the American Heart Association, along with many other health organizations, recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Unfortunately, statistics show that over 75% of American adults get less than this recommended amount, which explains why one-third of American adults are overweight and another third obese.
The solution? We simply need to get up from our chairs and get a healthy dose of heart-pumping, cardio exercise. And one of the best ways to do that, according to researchers, is with rebounding.
Rebounding studies show impressive results
For years, rebounding enthusiasts’ belief that mini-trampoline workouts were superior to other types of exercise was dismissed as, shall we say, “kooky.” However, more recently, researchers have discovered that rebounding’s unique benefits produce a full-body workout that really is extraordinary, especially when it comes its cardiovascular effects. And they’ve got the numbers to prove it. One research study, published in January of 2016 in the International Journal of Sports Science, showed that rebounding burns fat 50% faster than running and increases cardiovascular fitness more than twice as fast, which is astounding. Then, in July, another study published inScience & Sport examined rebounding’s effect on overweight women and showed extraordinary improvements in cardio fitness, body composition and overall quality of life. The researchers of this second study, in their recommendation to the American College of Sports Medicine, concluded that rebounding didn’t just offer several major benefits, but as a cardio workout was an “effective way to achieve an optimal level of training.”
Rebounding is not only effective, it’s also so efficient that it can significantly improve fitness in just minutes a week. This was demonstrated in an eight-week study published just last year in the German Journal of Sports Medicine (Deutsche Zeitschrift für Sportmedizin). The participants in the study performed 19-minute workouts three times a week, for a weekly total of just 57 minutes, which is slightly more than one-third of the 150 minutes per week recommended by the American Heart Association. However, rebounding is so efficient that even with so little exercise, “significant improvements were found in aerobic capacity,” and body fat was reduced by an impressive 5.4%…which is a lot of bang for your bounce.
All of these findings make sense when you look at the first major research study to examine trampoline exercise, conducted by NASA scientists all the way back in 1980. They concluded, “for similar levels of HR [heart rate] and VO2 [oxygen consumption], the magnitude of the biomechanical stimuli is greater with jumping on a trampoline than with running” In other words, bouncing engages more of your body than running, and does it in a sustainable, enjoyable way, which is why researchers, to this day, marvel over its effectiveness.
Almost as important as what rebounding does is what it doesn’t do: it doesn’t strain your joints or back because it’s a very low-impact exercise; it doesn’t let the weather get in the way of your workouts because it can be done indoors or out; and (this is a biggie) it never gets boring, because bouncing is actually fun and offers so many variations that your workouts stay fresh.
Cardio exercise, true to its name, really is the heart of fitness. If you’re looking to lose weight, reinvigorate your health and boost your mental and physical energy, nothing does it better than a cardio workout, and nothing provides a cardio workout better than rebounding. It can change your life for the better, in just a few, enjoyable minutes a day.