Benefits of bouncing
Trampolines offer fitness, mental and even educational advantages
Trampolines are designed for bouncing and often considered a child’s toy but people of all ages from kids to adults are seeing that the springy device can be used for more than a fun time.
Lacey Golden is a karate instructor at Valley Forge Martial Arts in Audubon. As a martial arts instructor, her body gets thrown into jarring positions which has contributed to back pain. Golden said her back would “give out” several times a month and that the pain would “cripple” her.
“It gives out so badly that it feels like somebody’s squeezing my lungs very suddenly and it just takes my breath away,” she said.
Golden’s lower back pain, issues with her joints and breathing difficulties lead her to explore something called rebound therapy which uses personal, mini-trampolines called rebounders. The physical therapy uses trampolines for rehabilitation and a variety of other special needs.
Trampolines along with rock climbing walls and obstacle courses are used as part of the physical therapy programs at EBS (Educational Based Services) Children’s Therapy in West Chester. The therapy programs service children with special needs, those with learning difficulties and kids with anxiety, said Stephanie Moyer, the clinic’s outreach and communications director.
Moyer said trampolines are used in children’s physical therapy to improve cardiovascular fitness, strength building and coordination. She said the bouncing devices also benefit the senses by helping children to calm down and make the body more alert. Children also learn to interact well with others through trampolines, Moyer said.
“For a child with autism, jumping on a trampoline is a great way for him or her to open up socially,” she said.
Individual goals and experiences vary.
About three months ago, Golden purchased a trampoline with the hope that rebound therapy would lessen the back pain she was experiencing. She said the low-impact workout not only helped with the back pain but also helped her to relax. The first month Golden started rebound therapy, her back didn’t give out once. Golden said she doesn’t follow any particular exercise video for rebounding but just does her own set of activities on the mini-trampoline.
“That’s the beautiful thing about rebounding. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. You just get on there and bounce,” she said.
Golden said she has experienced first-hand some of the benefits of jumping on a trampoline and learned about many others online. Through research, she found out that the activity increases endurance on a cellular level.
“You’re basically exercising every cell in your body at the same time right up to your eyeballs,” she said.
Also as someone with breathing difficulties, Golden said rebounding helps to oxygenate the entire body which increases the capacity of respiration. She said a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) study even found that jumping on a trampoline is twice as effective as running but with lower stress on the body.
“They actually use it to rehabilitate their astronauts when they come back to gravity to help rebuild bone mass,” Golden said.
Amy Fox, former fitness instructor of the H30 Bounce class at Weston Fitness in Philadelphia, also used the NASA study to explain some of the benefits of bouncing. The study done by NASA scientists was published in 1980 in the Journal of Applied Physiology. A summary of the study can be found at www.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/pubmed/7429911.
“The increased G-force in rebounding means you get more benefit with less oxygen used and less exertion on the heart,” Fox said.
She said the study also found that jumping on a trampoline doesn’t put additional stress on the ankles and joints.
“This shows that rebounding can exercise the entire body without excess pressure to the feet and legs,” Fox said.
People in the H30 Bounce class use individual minitrampolines, or rebounders, during the workout. People are grouped into pairs of two then switch off for exercise intervals.
“Not only is this setup unique but it forces participants to also develop greater mental awareness, focus and attention. It also serves to boost community,” Fox said.
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Sandy Weston, the founder of Weston Fitness, said she created the H30 classes years ago and that the “H” stands for head.
“The whole theme is train your head and the body will follow,” she said.
Weston said her family has experienced the physical and mental benefits of mini-trampolines.
“I always had one or two in my house for my son. He used to jump on it constantly,” she said.
Weston said when her now 13-year-old son was younger, he had a problem focusing while learning because he processed information differently than others. He participated in a student-led program that they called “jump study.” While her son jumped on a rebounder trampoline, he would practice his math skills, spelling words and do other educational activities. The jumping helped relax his system so he could focus better,
Rachel Rudman, a New York-based pediatric occupational therapist, said jumping up and down releases the neurochemicals histamine and serotonin which help improve focus and create a “feel good” effect.
“These chemicals that are released are also known to break down adrenaline which is commonly found with anxiety. Overall the impact of jumping for as little as three minutes will give a 2 to 4 hour calming organized effect,” she said.
Rudman has training in sensory integration and the development of children through play. Sensory integration is the process of receiving information through the senses, according to the Pathways.org website which uses a roundtable of medical specialists to provide educational materials. The website stated that the vestibular sense is the “movement and balance sense.”
“As an occupational therapist, I use trampolines a lot. I have kids jump to improve body awareness … I also use the trampoline to work on pacing and rhythm,” Rudman said.
Rudman also explained that before children experience the neurological benefits of jumping, they will first experience the physical ones.
“The main benefits for kids jumping on trampolines are endurance, core strength, stamina and rhythm. The added perk is the focus effect which comes after the jumping,” she said.
Eric Kline is the owner and head coach at Zero Gravity in Wilkes-Barre.
“The gym is based around competitive trampoline and tumbling,” Kline said, adding that the team he coaches competes with USA Gymnastics on a national level.
The gym works a lot with cheerleaders and dancers but there’s also trampoline and tumbling recreational classes for ages 4 to
“That’s the beautiful thing about rebounding. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. You just get on there and bounce.”
18 where they learn how to do basic jumps, drops and twists.
“It’s very good for spatial awareness at any rate. It’s good to carry over to other sports,” Kline said. “From an exercise standpoint, it’s very good for cardiovascular fitness.”
Weston said the many benefits of bouncing include improving bone mass which makes the activity great for seniors. She encourages every senior to give it a try. Weston said the trampolines may seem intimidating to some but the small rebounders aren’t that high off the ground. There are also hand rails that can be attached for additional support, she said.
A 2014 study published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics found that mini trampolines, along with aquatic gymnastics and floor gymnastics, helped to greatly improve the balance of older women after they trained for 12 weeks, according to the website www.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/pubmed/25239512.
Weston benefited herself from rebound therapy when she broke her foot a couple years ago. She used a trampoline
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as part of her rehabilitation. She said the activity helped strengthen her foot and give it flexibility after being immobile.
Weston said bouncing on a trampoline has so many benefits for kids and adults. She said the activity is great for fitness, rehab and the mind. She said there are trampoline parks that have big open spaces to promote jumping through all kinds of activities. Some of these parks even have specific fitness classes. She said either way, jumping on a trampoline makes people feel like a kid again and have fun.
“It’s very freeing but very relaxing,” Weston said.
There are several trampoline parks offered throughout the region For example:
• The Get Air Trampoline Park in King of Prussia has basic jumping, dodgeball, a foam pit, slam ball on wall-to-wall trampolines and more. For more information, visit the website at getairkop.com or call 267419-9219.
• Urban Air Trampoline & Adventure Park in Downingtown has open jump areas, jumping for fitness and monthly special needs jumps. For more information, visit the website at www.urbanairtrampolinepark.com/trampolinepark-locations/downingtown-pa-trampoline-park or call 484-674-6871.
• The Xtreme Air Indoor Trampoline Center in Wyomissing has trampoline jumping, foam pit diving, dodgeball, basketball and a ninja course. For more information, visit the website at catchxtremeair.com or call 610-375-2700 ext. 218.
• The Rebounder Z Indoor Trampoline Arena in Lansdale has an open jump area, dodgeball, basketball and a foam pit. For more information, visit the website at www.rebounderz.com/location/lansdale or call 267263-4981.
• There are Sky Zone Trampoline Park locations in Oaks, Glen Mills and Bethlehem. The park offers freestyle jump, basketball, dodgeball, a foam zone and a SkyFit class. For more information and a list of locations, visit the website at www.skyzone.com.
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Grady Scholla, 6, jumps on a trampoline while playing dodgeball with friends at the Get Air Trampoline Park in King of Prussia on Wednesday.
Children play dodgeball while jumping on a trampoline at the Get Air Trampoline Park in King of Prussia on Wednesday afternoon.
Weston Fitness in Philadelphia has an H30 Bounce class were participants use individual mini-trampolines, also known as rebounders.
People jump at the Indoor Trampoline Arena Rebounder Z in Lansdale.