Study touts rebounding as top solution for inactivity crisis

Ready to graduate beyond the confines of a treadmill to easy physical activity that is twice as effective at working the heart muscle, builds muscle strength faster, improves balance and mobility and is so much more joint-friendly than other forms of exercise, not to mention adaptable to kids and 90-year-olds?

Let’s face it. Successful aging means having the strength, flexibility, mobility and balance to carry out day-to-day tasks effortlessly and safely. Physically inactive? You’re not alone. The World Health Organization declared physical inactivity (PI) a global pandemic in 2012 – a health crisis that claims 3.2 million lives annually.  A whopping 81 per cent of adolescents do not meet the physical activity requirements necessary to prevent chronic disease, according to a 2018 WHO study.
So, what’s the solution? Jumping fitness on a mini trampoline, according to a study in the German Journal of Sports Medicine.

In fact, researchers found when untrained study participants engaged in eight weeks of jumping fitness on a mini trampoline, or better known as rebounding, they experienced a significant reduction of body fat compared to those participants running on a treadmill. What’s more, researchers found it to be 68 per cent more effective for cardiorespiratory fitness than the treadmill.

Living a sedentary life without physical activity? Expect your maximal oxygen uptake (a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness) to be 50 per cent less than what is considered “normal’ for a healthy adult, according to research in Nunn’s Applied Respiratory Physiology. Maximal oxygen uptake is the amount of oxygen consumed when exercising as hard as possible. After the age of 30, expect to lose about eight percent of maximal oxygen uptake per decade due to aging – unless you are physically active.

Shortness of breath while doing minimal physical activity is a good indicator of low maximal oxygen uptake. But not to worry, regular exercise can increase your maximal oxygen uptake level.

The study in the German Journal of Sports Medicine also found rebounding to be effective training for abs, legs, buttocks and deep back muscles, without the impacts on joints.

A study in the Journal of Medical Association of Thailand parallels these findings.

Researchers recruited 63 females between the ages of 35 and 45 years for a 12-week study comparing the results of conventional aerobics on a hard wood floor to aerobics on a rebounder. They discovered, after 12 weeks, muscular strength in the legs, balance and foot plantar pressure were “significantly better” in the rebounding group compared to the participants who were doing aerobic dance on a hard wood floor.

Poor foot plantar pressure – the distribution of weight on the foot throughout the gait cycle – can lead to imbalances and lower limb dysfunction, which can lead to pain.  Wounds can be caused by high foot pressure activities, like running and jumping; even walking puts pressure on the feet. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, running creates an impact that is about three times the weight of a person.

Researchers highlight the benefits of rebounding in helping to prevent high foot pressure injuries.

Not all rebounders are created equal though. Most are designed for recreation rather than regular fitness use. Price points vary depending on quality. Cheap rebounders are made with low-quality springs or bungees that can be jarring on the joints and leave the knees and back feeling worse than before beginning exercise. If regular use for therapeutics or fitness is the aim, invest in a high-quality rebounder that has springs specifically designed to absorb the impact of a bounce, to protect the joints. Some rebounders also offer a stabilizing bar to hold on to.

Clinically, rebounding has been used to increase maximal oxygen uptake in children with cystic fibrosis, to improve balance and motor skills in children with intellectual disability and enhance hip movement and balance in elderly, according to the German Journal of Sports Medicine study.

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