There's no denying the fun of jumping on a trampoline. And even though this bouncy play-and-exercise equipment does come with a few inherent risks, it can also provide a surprisingly good cardiovascular workout.
Jumping on a trampoline burns about as many calories as running at 6 mph and is intense enough to help develop your cardiorespiratory fitness.
Investigating Trampoline Workouts
Fun equals fitness more often than you might think — if only because when a type of physical activity is fun, you're more likely to include it as a regular part of your life. With that said, there's some solid science to back up the several benefits of a workout jumping on a trampoline.
In its 2016 Prosource newsletter, the American Council on Exercise revealed a study it had commissioned to evaluate the benefits of working out on mini-trampolines, aka rebounders. The study concluded that jumping on a trampoline is strenuous enough to improve your cardiorespiratory health over time, and that the subjects in the study (which involved a small group of 24 college students) were on the cusp between moderate and vigorous-intensity exertion during their trampoline workouts.
Interestingly, the study subjects reported slightly lower ratings of perceived exertion than the researchers expected. In other words, the trampoline workouts didn't feel as difficult or intense to the exercisers as it actually was.
What about calories? In the same ACE study, the subjects burned an average of 12.4 calories per minute for men, and 9.4 calories per minute for women during the actual workout portion of their rebounding program. If you include the warm-up and cool-down portions of the workout, that decreases to 11.0 and 8.3 calories per minute, respectively. ACE reports that this is roughly equivalent to running at a 6 mph pace over flat ground or biking at 14 mph.
So, regardless of whether you're trampolining to lose weight or build fitness (or both), jumping on a mini-trampoline can provide a meaningful contribution to your fitness goals. There's also the not-insignificant factor of mini-trampolines being relatively space-efficient and inexpensive — which makes them more accessible to the general public than many other types of exercise equipment.
Other Benefits of Trampolines
Losing weight and building physical capacity for exertion aren't the only ways to measure the benefits you get from using a mini-trampoline.
Dynamic stability is one of the biggest potential benefits of rebounding. In a June 2011 issue of the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, researchers evaluated a small group of 34 elderly subjects and found that a 14-week mini-trampolining program provided a notable increase in the subjects' ability to recover their balance during falls. Although falls are of particular concern for the elderly, the opportunity to improve your dynamic stability can be helpful at any age.
The benefits of using mini-trampolines are not specific to the elderly: In a study published in a July 2016 issue of the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, a small group of 28 adolescent males (ages 11 to 14) participated in 20 weeks of trampoline training. At the end of the study, they showed significant decreases in body fat and increases in fitness.
Like many types of exercise, rebounding may also be helpful for managing diabetes. In an April 2018 issue of the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, researchers split 60 non-insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetics into two groups: Half of them exercised on a mini-trampoline, while the other half read or watched television instead. At the end of the 12-week program, those who used the mini-trampolines showed significant improvements in insulin resistance, lipid profiles and waist circumference.
Even in the general population, mini-trampolines can improve many markers of general health and well-being. In another small study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, this one published in March 2018, researchers asked 18 overweight women to spend 12 weeks exercising on a mini-trampoline. At the end of the 12-week period, the subjects' blood pressure, lipid and glucose profiles had all improved, as had their levels of pain, their fitness and their body composition.
Are Trampolines Safe?
All of the research just cited applies to mini-trampolines or rebounders — relatively small, low-to-the-ground pieces of equipment designed specifically for fitness use. As a bonus, some rebounders come with a safety rail that you can hold onto for extra stability.
But full-size trampolines — the sort you might have in your backyard — and the giant equipment you may encounter in trampoline parks can be a very different story. Although this play equipment is fun and still provides a great workout, it also comes with extra hazards.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that thousands of people are injured on trampolines every year. Children under 6 are at the highest risk, and injuries can happen even with safety nets, padding and a vigilant parent nearby. Some of the common injuries include broken bones, head and neck injuries, concussions, sprains/strains, plus bruises, scrapes and cuts.
Ultimately, the AAP recommends against buying a trampoline — whether miniature or full-size — for your home. That's something to keep in mind if you want a mini-trampoline for yourself and have small children. Many rebounders are designed for easy storage in a closet or under a bed to keep them safely out of sight. Or you can teach your kids safe trampolining practices, which include only one person jumping at a time, not trying stunts or flips, and always having adult supervision.
Your Trampoline Workout Tips
If you do buy a mini-trampoline for your workouts, take another hint from the AAP and inspect the trampoline frequently for any signs of wear. If your trampoline has a safety rail on it, make sure it's firmly attached and can support your weight. Speaking of which, any fitness trampolines or rebounders should have a weight limit labeled clearly on the box. Jumping on a trampoline with the wrong weight limit isn't just unsafe, it's also not much fun because the trampoline won't respond properly.
Finally, always warm up and cool down before your trampoline workouts. This gives your body a chance to ease into, then back out of, a state of exercise readiness, which means you'll enjoy better results and have a decreased risk of injury during your workout.
- Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology: "Mini-Trampoline Exercise Related to Mechanisms of Dynamic Stability Improves the Ability to Regain Balance in Elderly"
- Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness: "Influence of a Mini-Trampoline Rebound Exercise Program on Insulin Resistance, Lipid Profile and Central Obesity in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes"
- Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness: "Effects of a Mini-Trampoline Rebounding Exercise Program on Functional Parameters, Body Composition and Quality of Life in Overweight Women"
- International Journal of Preventive Medicine: "Effect of a Trampoline Exercise on the Anthropometric Measures and Motor Performance of Adolescent Students"
- American Council on Exercise: "Putting Mini Trampolines to the Test"
- American Academy of Pediatrics: "Trampolines: What You Need to Know"