Go Ahead and Jump — It's Good for You!

Family Jumping

Story at-a-glance -

  • If you are like many people, you may be spending 13 hours a day seated, increasing your risk of early death, even if you work out every day
  • Jumping has an amazing number of benefits to your health, from improving your lymphatic flow and immune system, to increased bone density and better balance
  • Before jumping on your trampoline or rebounder, take appropriate safety precautions to reduce your risk of injury

By Dr. Mercola

If you are like most people, you probably spend hours indoors and a large portion of your day sitting behind a desk. It's difficult to avoid as most work is done on a computer and many hours may be spent each week commuting back and forth to work.

In fact, according to the National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS) commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most people spent at least 93 percent of their time indoors or in the car.1

Global studies show people are sitting at least 7.7 hours each day, on average, and sit as much as 15 hours a day.2

Most Americans have to sit all day at work, but a new survey commissioned by Egotron found that 70 percent of people dislike sitting all day, and when they do get up at work, 56 percent use getting food as an excuse.3 According to this survey, Americans were sitting an average of 13 hours each day.

Jumping Instead of Sitting

Mounting research suggests that sitting is an independent risk factor for poor health and premature death, even when you exercise regularly.4,5,6,7 Sometimes getting started or finding the motivation is difficult.

In this video, Julie Schiffman demonstrates using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to overcome obstacles that may impact your exercise routines or desire to get moving.

Research by Joan Vernikos, Ph.D., former director of National Aeronautics Space Administration's (NASA) Life Sciences Division and author of "Sitting Kills, Moving Heals," presents a simple yet powerful scientific explanation for why sitting has such a dramatic impact on your health, and how you can simply and easily counteract the ill effects of sitting.

She found it was the change in posture that was a powerful signal, and not the act of standing. In other words, the key to counteract the ill effects of prolonged sitting is to repeatedly and frequently interrupt your sitting. If you stand 35 times at one time, the benefit is not as great as if you stand up once every 15 to 20 minutes.

One way to offset the effects of prolonged sitting is jumping. A new study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), found that jumping on a mini-trampoline or rebounder for less than 20 minutes was as good as running, less stressful on your joints, and may even be more fun.8

However, you don't need a rebounder in your office to experience benefits. Standing at your desk every 20 minutes and jumping in place several times may offer different benefits to your bones, and increases your heart rate.

Why Jumping Is Easier on Your Body Than Running

According to the Arthritis Foundation, every pound of excess weight places an additional 4 pounds of pressure on your knees when walking.9 So if you are 10 pounds overweight, this amounts to 40 pounds of extra pressure on your knees with each step, increasing your risk of knee pain.

Running places an even greater amount of stress on your knees. In a study published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, researchers evaluated stress on the knee joint based on the runner's speed.10 Their study revealed that speed plays a vital role in how much impact your knee receives.

They evaluated runners at 5 mph (12-minute mile), 7.3 mph (8.2-minute mile), and 9.8 mph (six-minute mile) and discovered the runners traveling at greater speed experienced less overall stress.

Although the amount of stress increased as speed increased, the overall stress experienced was less at higher speed, as the runners used a lower number of strides to cover the same distance.

This means that even if you carry just a few extra pounds, running can put a significant amount of stress on your knees.

On the other hand, a rebounder or trampoline offers a platform that gives under your weight and absorbs some of the impact on your joints. However, even with less impact it continues to offer you a cardiovascular and core strengthening workout.

Jumping Provides Greater Fitness Benefits Than Running

Rebounding, or jumping on a mini-trampoline in your home, gained popularity in the 1980s following a study commissioned by NASA, in which they compared the oxygen uptake and body distribution between running and jumping on a mini-trampoline.11

The intention was to find a form of exercise that could reduce the effects of deconditioning of their astronauts while in a weightless environment.

The results showed athletes experienced the greatest amount of stress in their ankles and legs while running, whereas the force on a trampoline was more equally distributed between the lower legs and the back and head.

These were lower forces than the athlete experienced running, but at the same oxygen uptake. This means the athletes were working equally hard when running and jumping, but experiencing less force on their body while jumping.

The benefits the athletes experienced at a cellular level were greater and at less force than running.12 Athletes also enjoyed increased force on the rebounder with less stress on the heart and less oxygen used. Specifically, the researchers wrote:13

"The magnitude of biomechanical stimulation is greater with jumping on a trampoline than with running, a finding that might help identify acceleration parameters needed for the design of remedial procedures to avert deconditioning in persons exposed to weightlessness."

If oxygen uptake were equal between the two exercises, athletes participating in trampoline jumping gained 68 percent more benefit than those who were running.

Bone Density and Osteoporosis

Worldwide osteoporosis is responsible for nearly 9 million fractures, affecting 200 million worldwide and 75 million in the U.S., Europe and Japan.14 Research published in Osteoporosis International estimated that by 2050 the worldwide incidence in men would increase by 310 percent and 240 percent in women, compared to rates from 1990.15

Rising rates of osteoporosis combined with poor health outcomes make this a significant public health concern. The U.S. has the highest rate of hip fractures in the world.16 Osteoporosis is one of the common causes of hip fractures,17 costing an estimated $12 billion each year18 and increasing the risk of mortality by 500 to 800 percent in the first year.19

However, recent research published in the American Journal of Health Promotion (AJHP) demonstrates that jumping 20 times a day may have a significant impact on your risk of osteoporosis.20 After just eight weeks, researchers found a demonstrable change in bone mineral density in their subjects.

Participants either jumped 10 times with 30 second rests in between jumps, twice daily, or they jumped 20 times with 30 second rests, once daily. After eight weeks there was greater improvement in those who jumped 20 times, but after 16 weeks both groups exhibited greater gains over the control group who did not jump.

More Benefits You May Experience From Jumping Like a Kid

By placing added stress on your bones, jumping on a trampoline may gradually reduce your risk of osteoporosis. You will also experience cardiovascular benefits, increased strength in your legs and core and improve your mental health. Activity pumps oxygen-rich blood to your brain that helps improve your mental outlook on life and improves your creativity.

Jumping on a rebounder has other physical benefits you might not suspect. If you haven't been exercising, using a trampoline may increase your mitochondrial biogenesis, or the increase in mass of mitochondria in your cells.21 This increases your resistance to fatigue and improves your health. Exercise may also increase your mitochondrial biogenesis in your brain, reducing your risk for fatigue and dementia.22

Training on a rebounder also improves your balance, no matter your age. Researchers found a 14-week training interval improved the ability of the elderly to recover during a forward fall.23 This was attributed to an increase in hip movement during the exercise. The same exercise may help people after stroke to regain balance, a dynamic gait and reduce the risk of falls.24

The dura disc is specialized equipment designed to improve balance, strength and lower limb control after injury. The trampoline may make those improvements while also helping you achieve your cardiovascular and weight management goals. Researchers determined the trampoline was as effective as the dura disc to improve balance after a lateral ankle sprain.25

Using a rebounder is convenient and may help improve your lymphatic circulation and your immune system. Your lymphatic system is dependent on muscle contraction to circulate through your body. During normal exercise your lymphatic circulation increases two to three times over when you are at rest.26

Your lymphatic system supports your immune system and transports immune cells through your body. Jumping increases the force of gravity and has an impact on your immune system, speeding the development of T-lymphocyte motility.27,28

Start Rebounding and Practice Safety

It's important that you don't wear tight or restrictive clothing while you're working out on your rebounder. This allows your lymph system to flow more easily.  Although this is a gentle exercise, it's important that you start slowly to improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling from the equipment. If your balance is poor, you'll want to use a rebounder with a safety bar to prevent falls.

If you are new to exercise or to the rebounder, your feet don't need to leave the surface. You can jump up and down by bending your knees and bouncing at first, gradually working up to your feet leaving the surface. You may choose to use the rebounder for a 15- or 20-minute program, or jump on it for three to five minutes several times each day. 

It is important to practice safety when using a rebounder. Falling from the equipment may result in sprains, strains or broken bones, sidelining you for weeks or months.29 You should not use a trampoline or rebounder when you're pregnant as it can cause your connective tissue to stretch. This can lead to joint injuries. Your center of gravity also changes when you're pregnant, so it's easier to lose your balance and fall.

Don't use your rebounder or trampoline when you've drunk alcohol, used any medication that may affect your balance or if the trampoline surface is wet. Each of these situation increase your risk of injury.

Design a Workout to Fit Your Needs

Do you remember jumping up and down on the bed when you were a child?  Now is the time to channel that inner child, have fun and improve your health at the same time. Here are six different exercises you can use on your rebounder or trampoline. String them together at one time, do them throughout the day, or concentrate on just the exercises you want.

Remember, it's not about how high you're jumping but rather about being in control while you're on the rebounder. Keep your knees bent and not locked, with your feet shoulder width apart. Don't bend your head forward, backward or to the side. Keep your head in line with your spine. If you need to turn your head, stop jumping first. Brace your core and let's get started.

Warm Up

Warm up by jumping gently for a minute with your arms at your side. This helps you to get your balance on the rebounder before adding arm movements. As you become more comfortable, alternate raising and lowering your arms to the side and the front.

On one bounce, raise your right arm straight out to the side and your left arm straight in front of your body. On the next bounce alternate arms — left arm to the side, right arm in front. You may try this for one minute with or without light hand-held weights.

Oblique Twist

While jumping engages your core, this exercise will work specifically on your oblique muscles, or those that give you that defined waist.

Standing on the rebounder using the correct stance described above and your arms at shoulder height, jump and twist your body below your arms from left on the first bounce to right on the next. Keep your head and shoulders facing forward, focusing on an object in the room and only twist your torso.

Straight Jumps

These engage your entire body to stay straight and in control. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms locked to your side. Choose an object in the room to focus on and keep your balance. Jump up and down, pointing your toes and tightening your quads while in the air.

Rocking

Rocking on the rebounder is a good workout for your core and a break from jumping. Lying on your back on the rebounder, place your hands behind your head, your knees and hips at a 90-degree angle, activating your core, rock up and down on the rebounder without pulling on your neck and keeping your hips and knees at 90 degrees.

Jumping Jacks

You did them in elementary school and now it's time to do them on the rebounder. Standing with your feet together and hands at your sides, jump up and land with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands at your shoulders.

When you jump again, bring your legs together smartly, fully engaging your inner thigh muscles and return your hands to your sides. You can do these with light hand weights. If you have had shoulder injuries it's best to do them without weights.

Lateral Skiing

This is similar to the motion of skiing except on the rebounder. It's tougher than the others and may leave you breathless. You can use light hand weights to increase the challenge as you progress.

Standing on the rebounder with feet shoulder width apart, begin jumping side to side with your knees bent to absorb the impact. Alternate raising and lowering your hands so when you jump to the right your right hand is at your side and your left arm is bent at the elbow and hand to your chest, engaging your biceps.

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