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the health benefits of bouncing on a trampoline

Health Benefits of Bouncing / Rebounding on a Trampoline

“For similar levels of heart rate and oxygen consumption, the magnitude of the biomechanical stimuli is greater with jumping on a trampoline than with running, a finding that might help identify acceleration parameter needed for the design of remedial procedures to avert deconditioning in persons exposed to weightlessness…    The external work output at equivalent levels of oxygen uptake was significantly greater while trampolining than running.  The greatest difference was about 68%” Cherry-picked from a 1980 study from the Journal of Applied Physiology (Body Acceleration Distribution and O2 Uptake in Humans During Running and Jumping) that was commissioned for NASA and done by the Biomechanical Research Division of the NASA-Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, in conjunction with the Wenner-Gren Research Laboratory at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. 

“The mini-trampoline provides a convenient form of exercise with a major advantage being its apparent low level of trauma to the musculoskeletal system.”From the 1990 issue of the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation (Analysis of the Acute Physiologic Effects of Minitrampoline Rebounding Exercise).

“Your heart circulates your blood continuously, delivering nutrients, oxygen, and hydration to your cells. But what about your cell’s waste products?  Although running is good for the lymphatic system, over time it can take a toll on your joints (and on your heart believe it or not). So, on balance, running is not the best way to move your lymph fluid around. Skipping, ‘spirited walking’, and rebounding are your best choices. Time to take a cue from kids — jump!”  –Don Bennett from his 2006 book, Avoiding Degenerative Disease: The Operation and Maintenance Manual for Human Beings.

“Trampoline users experience cyclical loadings between almost weightlessness to approximately 5 G-force.  Not only is trampolining an effective but it is also an efficient form of exercise. NASA’s trampolining studies compared trampolining and running and found that 10 minutes of trampolining on a trampoline is equivalent to running for approximately 30 minutes.  Like any other form of exercise, trampolining increases the heart rate and reduces the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Studies in the use of trampolining for cardiovascular fitness have proven that mini- trampoline exercise satisfies the American College of Sports Medicine criteria for improvement of cardiorespiratory conditions. The study by Perantoni et al. found that trampolining participants experienced a heart rate increase to 189 beats per minute…” -Dr. David Eager, a professor in the Engineering and Information Technology Department of Sydney, Australia’s University of Technology, and presented to 2012’s Australasian Congress on Applied Mechanics (Characterization of Trampoline Bounce Using Acceleration).

Kids have been bouncing on beds since the invention of the bed spring — and always looking for something bigger and better.  Enter George Nissen.  Nissen (1914 – 2010), a three time NCAA gymnastic champion from the University of Iowa, took this concept of bouncing a step further, and after examining the nets used to save trapeze artists from the ground, invented the trampoline in the mid 1930’s (his inventing the game SPACEBALL — I played it years ago in Nashville — came a couple of decades later).  

My personal infatuation with the trampoline started before I was five.  The small rural Kansas school where my dad started his career as a principal (Williamsburg) had a large rectangular trampoline that would be brought out every now and then for students to take turn jumping on during gym class.  As I got older, I was always that person who was doing back flips off of whatever was available, crazy tricks off of diving boards, and jumping off bridges, cliffs, or bluffs (my brother and I have pics of us jumping off a 100 footer at Lake of the Ozarks).  Naturally, I felt right at home on a trampoline and would climb on and jump any time I found the opportunity (they were few and far between back in the day).

I actually discovered some of the health benefits of bouncing on a trampoline (the official name for this is “rebounding“) shortly after coming to Mountain View. I had just broken my ankle for the second time playing basketball (avulsion fractures).  I purchased a full-sized trampoline to rehab on, and it turned out to be a great thing for me. Not only did it help my ankle heal with more range of motion and strength than it otherwise would have, but I quickly learned that trampolining could provide a heck of a workout. 

I bought our family’s current trampoline (it’s a heavy-duty unit special-ordered from Idaho) when my son was a toddler.  I then found an online company from Louisiana that provided netting, rope, and plans for building an extra strong / extra tall safety cage out of schedule 40 PVC, and we were in business.  A year or so later I was at a scratch-and-dent outlet place and bought a short five foot trampoline for our kid’s playroom basement (we surrounded it with gymnastic mats we snagged at a yard sale in St. Louis).   We used to bounce for hours, playing homemade games that the kids still remember and talk about fondly. 

MY BROTHER and his wife are Emergency Room Physicians with decades of experience between them, and have seen the fallout from trampolines. The truth is, trampolines can be dangerous. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in 2012 warning “parents and children against recreational trampoline use.” (you can read the whole thing HERE). 

And just this month, the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics published a peer-reviewed study (Fractures From Trampolines: Results From a National Database, 2002 to 2011) which showed that, “There were an estimated 1,002,735 ED visits for trampoline-related injuries; 288,876 (29.0%) sustained fractures. The average age for those with fractures was 9.5 years; 92.7% were aged 16 years or younger“.  And this is not even getting into the fact that paralysis and even death are possible with a trampoline .  Thus the following warning from me before you even think of purchasing a trampoline for the exercise benefits.

The information in this blog post is just that — information.  It has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  Nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or act as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  I am not suggesting that you run out and purchase a trampoline, nor am I suggesting that you personally, your children, your neighbors, your loved one’s neighbors, your pets, etc, may benefit in any way, shape or from bouncing on a trampoline.  Furthermore, because the article from the AAP discussed above says that, “Most trampoline injuries occur with multiple simultaneous users on the mat. Cervical spine injuries often occur with falls off the trampoline or with attempts at somersaults or flips,” I want you to notice that I am neither advocating more than one person at a time on the trampoline, nor am I suggesting doing flips or other tricks.  Bottom line, if you or your loved ones get on a trampoline, you are taking a known risk that could end in ER visits, bruises, bumps, cuts, sprains / strains, fractures, impalement, paralysis, death, or any number of other harsh outcomes.  Oh, and never disregard medical advice, or delay seeking medical attention because of what you read on this or any other post on my site.


Lauren from Wikimedia

REBOUNDING IS FUN:  The truth is, many forms of exercise are monotonous and boring.  This is a common reason that people quit.  You can use online resources (YouTube is a great one) to find large numbers of different workout routines to fit your specific needs and goals, depending on factors like your age, fitness level, and athletic ability.

ANYONE CAN DO IT ALMOST ANYWHERE: As long as you have a rebounder (mini-tramp), you can rebound.  You can rebound if you are young.  And with a rail to hold on to (many of the quality units come with one), you can rebound when you are old.  And better yet, the exercise is as light or intense as you care to make it.  Many of the newer models fold up so you can take them with you if you want.  There have been several studies concerning the fact that rebounding can be as low-impact as you care to make it.

COORDINATION, BALANCE, & PROPRIOCEPTION:  Don’t kid yourself; bouncing on a trampoline (particularly a full sized trampoline) takes balance and coordination.  It also increases WHOLE BODY PROPRIOCEPTIVE FUNCTION.  Suffice it to say that these things work in tandem to heavily stimulate both your body and your brain.  It was the Director of Research & Rehab in USC’s Physical Education Department (Dr. James White) who stated, “Rebounding allows the muscles to go through the full range of motion at equal force. It helps people learn to shift their weight properly and to be aware of body positions and balance“.  With falls being such a huge cause of morbidity and mortality among the geriatric crowd, anything that helps prevent them might be worth a second look. You may also want to take a look at my article, FASCIA AS A PROPRIOCEPTIVE ORGAN.

HELPS SLOW DOWN DEGENERATIVE ARTHRITIS:  Increasing your body’s proprioception is a vital step in preventing or even reversing DEGENERATIVE ARTHRITIS, and is one of the main reasons I chose to use it as a cornerstone of my ankle rehab many years ago.

BETTER BRAIN FUNCTION:  I have a patient who was so incensed when her grade school aged son was labeled as “retarded” many years ago, she decided to do something about it.  She sought out a therapist who dramatically increased this child’s ability to learn via increasing those things mentioned a couple of bullet points above — coordination, balance, and proprioception. 

The kid used trampolines, wobble boards, EXERCISE BALLS, and a homemade vestibular chair, among other things, to stimulate his brain, increase his capacity to learn, get a regular high school diploma, and become a productive, taxpaying member of society.  We home-schooled our kids and frequently send them out for short “bouncing breaks” — particularly when they are having trouble focusing.  Trust me; bouncing is a great remedy for an inability to concentrate!

BETTER MOODS & RELIEF OF STRESS:  Not only is stimulating your brain in this fashion going to help your cognitive abilities it will help your mood as well.  Exercise in general has been strongly associated with decreased DEPRESSION, and rebounding is fabulous exercise.  Also, how many of you have found that exercise is a tremendous form of of stress relief?  Again, this could be said about almost any form of exercise, but because rebounding has that rare ability to provide both cardio and strength training at the same time (more on this in a moment), you can get great results quickly.

DECREASED INFLAMMATION:  Exercise is also heavily associated with decreasing the amount of INFLAMMATION coursing through your body.  Because almost every disease under the sun is considered “inflammatory” (HERE and HERE are lists of Inflammatory Diseases), decreasing the amount of Systemic Inflammation is going to go a long way toward boosting your overall health.  Yes, OBESITY is considered inflammatory too; and yes, trampolining will help you lose weight if that is what you need (there are many who tout rebounding’s ability to diminish the appearance of CELLULITE). 

REBOUNDING CAN BE BOTH CARDIO AND STRENGTH EXERCISE:   Wait a minute.  I just told you that.  Those who follow my blog already know that I think that STRENGTH TRAINING IS SUPERIOR TO CARDIO in almost every measurable parameter.   You can see how rebounding can be an aerobic activity, but if you do it hard enough, it can also be an anaerobic activity as well.  My workout below should prove this to you, but after playing a half hour game of “Space Ball” in Nashville with a good friend a number of years ago and thinking I was going to die after just five minutes, I assure you that when done with vigor, rebounding is of equal intensity to RUNNING SPRINTS

Although this will not apply to some of you, remember that exercise of higher intensity and lower duration has been shown by study after study to be superior to the opposite.  If you do too much low intensity exercise, you run the risk of developing ADRENAL FATIGUE.

CORE STRENGTH:  The only way you are ever going to truly strengthen your core, is to do exercises that either require you to stabilize yourself, or are done on an unstable surface.  Besides an EXERCISE BALL, bouncing on a trampoline (particularly a large one) is the only thing I can think of that fills the bill for both.

DIGESTION / CONSTIPATION:  Although I’m not convinced that a trampoline is going to take the place of STOMACH ACID and a HEALTHY GUT, the back-and-forth between positive and negative G’s can provide a boost to peristalsis (the muscular contractions that move food though your digestive system).

REBOUNDING HELPS PREVENT OSTEOPOROSIS:  As I have shown you in my posts on the subject (HERE are a bunch of them), simply taking more calcium is never the answer for preventing or reversing Osteoporosis.  Besides taking RAW BONE MEAL, the only activity that I am aware of for increasing bone density is STRENGTH TRAINING.  The more intense one gets with their rebounding, the more “G’s” you are putting on your body and bones, and the stronger you get. 

Wolff’s Law (HERE) says that bone grows in response to mechanical stress that’s placed on it, whether normal or abnormal.  In fact, an article from the November 11, 2009 issue of the New York Times (The Best Exercise for Healthy Bones) stated that, “The current state-of-the-science message about exercise and bone building may be that, silly as it sounds, the best exercise is to simply jump up and down“. Although it may sound counterintuitive, a mechanically-stressed bone is a healthy bone!

IT INCREASES YOUR LEVELS OF TISSUE OXYGENATION:   Although any form of exercise can potentially help this area, rebounding on a mini-tramp is something that you could actually do using EWOT.  I am not going to get into the whole “oxygen-is-good-for-you” thing, but suffice it to say that oxygen is good for you. Need more proof? If you are one of the estimated 25+ million Americans dealing with SLEEP APNEA, take a moment to click on the link.

LYMPHATIC CIRCULATION & DETOXIFICATION: This might possibly be rebounding’s number one health benefit.  Your cells are all bathed in something called “Extracellular Fluid” (the water / fluid outside of each of your 60 trillion cells.  Lymph is the fluid that is formed when the extracellular fluid is collected via tiny vessels called “Lymph Capillaries”, transported through the Lymph Vascular System (picture on right), to just above the heart, where it is mixed back into the blood. 

Be aware that Lymph Nodes are the body’s filters that work to remove DYSBIOTIC bacteria, viruses, CANCER, etc, etc.  As you might imagine, it is of critical importance to your IMMUNE SYSTEM to keep the Lymph circulating vigorously throughout the body.  Listen to what Dr. Arthur Guyton, author of the textbook that all medical students use (The Textbook of Medical Physiology, usually simply referred to as “Guyton“) says about this.  “The lymphatic pump becomes very active during exercise, often increasing lymph flow 10 to 30 fold.” Rebounding may even prove better.

Due to the dramatically increased G-forces that can be associated with rebounding, it has been shown to be an extremely potent method of “flushing” the Lymph Vascular System of toxicity so that it can then go through BIOTRANSFORMATION PATHWAYS. Furthermore, a 2008 article on the website Natural News (Whole Body Detox (Part 1): Lymphatic Cleansing With Rebound Exercise) stated…… 

It takes only two minutes of rebounding to flush the entire lymphatic system, while cleansing and strengthening cells and lymph nodes. A further benefit to the body is that during this brief time span the white blood cells of the immune system triple in number and remain elevated for an hour. These specialized cells play a major role in the body’s defense against illness and disease. For one full hour their activity is increased as they perform their tasks of destroying and eliminating cancer cells and other toxins, expending themselves in the process. An hour after rebounding for two minutes the white blood cell count returns to normal.

For a great example of this, take a look at Chris Wark, author of the website Chris Beat Cancer.  Chris was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer over a decade and a half ago — at only 26 years old.  He beat it without chemo or radiation, using a combination of diet and rebounding.  You can read about it in his article, The Best Exercise For Your Immune System: Rebounding!

Besides that, your Lymphatic System (Bone Marrow, Spleen, Tonsils, Adenoids, Thymus, Spleen, and Lymph Nodes) perform an array of other vital functions having to do with your Immune System as well. For those of you who are interested, cruise on over to Soft Chalk and take a look at their lesson called Blood, Lymphatic, and Immune System.  For more on the relationship between FASCIA AND CANCER as it relates to your lymphatics, simply click the link.


It is important to remember that all trampolines are not created equal, whether we are talking full-sized units or mini-tramps (rebounders).  You can get a small rebounder for 40 bucks or so (or probably 5 bucks at a yard sale or on Craigslist).  However, according to most experts (not me because I have never spent much time on a mini-tramp), if you plan on making rebounding a cornerstone of your fitness routine, you’ll need to spend some bucks in order to get a good quality unit that works as advertised and is easy on your joints. 

I won’t mention a brand here, but I saw a four foot rebounder listed for $700.00 online.  The average cost for a quality rebounder appeared to be generally in the $350 – $400 range — substantially less than what you would pay for a quality treadmill or elliptical machine.  For those of you who want the benefit, but for whatever reason would never set foot on a trampoline, take a look at WHOLE BODY VIBRATION.

I personally (and regularly) use our full-sized trampoline, and I typically jump hard and high.  One of my favorite exercises is to bounce laterally from one side of the trampoline to the other, as well as front to back. sometimes I combine these motions.  Sometimes I add twists and spins.  Sometimes I go for height and sometimes I go for speed. 

For me personally, I find that I need to get after it if I want my body to adapt rapidly. Although not recommended for everyone at higher intensity levels, it’s the G’s and imbalance that build strength, coordination, and endurance. How big a deal can rebounding be as far as one’s overall health is concerned?  It has enough potential that it is part of the CLINIC’S GENERAL PROTOCOL for helping people with chronic pain and / or chronic illness.


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2 Responses

  1. If you’ve got a weight loss goal in mind, trampolining could be just as, if not more, effective than more dreary gym cardio options.

  2. Trampoline exercises firms the legs, thighs, abdomen, arms and hips, increases agility and improves sense of balance. The gentle detoxification that occurs when you are rebounding encourages fat loss.

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