Q: I’ve seen signs for rebounding (trampoline) classes at my gym. How does this compare to other aerobic activities like running—and is it safe?
A: Provided you take the right precautions and don’t fall off, rebounding (in which you bounce on a mini-trampoline, usually as part of a group class guided by an instructor) can provide a safe and relatively intense aerobic workout. In fact, a recent study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that it burns calories at about the same rate as jogging. Not too shabby for something that feels like a slice of childhood.
The study included 24 college-aged adults who completed a 19-minute trampoline exercise session. The researchers monitored their heart rates, caloric expenditure, and cardiorespiratory exertion. The participants burned 9.4 (women) and 12.4 (men) calories per minute on average—the equivalent of running at 6 miles per hour, biking at 14 miles per hour, or playing football, basketball, or ultimate Frisbee. Jumping on a mini trampoline may also improve balance and spatial awareness, the researchers noted.
Rebounding isn’t just jumping straight up and down; a variety of moves are used, including jumping jacks, jumping with your arms in the air, vigorous bounces where you lift your knees to your chest, and small, quick bounces done in a squatting position.
Another reason to consider rebounding: Participants in the study perceived the workout to be less intense than it really was, possibly in part because of the trampoline’s cushioning effect combined with the fun factor. Perceiving a workout as easier than it actually is may help you to exercise longer, more frequently, or at a higher intensity than you normally would, according to ACE.Other research has shown that framing a workout as fun, as opposed to as exercise, can lead you to eat less afterward—since you’ll feel less like you need a reward for all that effort.
Rebounding is also fairly easy on joints, subjecting them to less impact than, say, jogging—a potential benefit for older exercisers, anyone recovering from an injury, or people with a history of bone or joint problems. But keep in mind that the low-impact nature of rebounding also likely means less benefit in terms of bone density, compared with other weight-bearing exercise like walking or jogging. And the possibility of falling off the trampoline exists, so it’s not entirely risk-free. But all in all, the rewards seem to outweigh the risks.
Also see Belly Up to the Barre?