Health And Fitness: Trampoline Exercises

Jumping on a trampoline is a fun, healthy form of exercise that is much easier on the joints than walking or jogging.

Jumping on a trampoline is something enjoyed by both children and adults.Children as young as two years of age will giggle when placed on a backyard trampoline and bounced, and adults of all ages find it is a fun, healthy form of exercise that is much easier on the joints than walking or jogging.

There are two basic types of trampolines.There is the large, round or rectangular kind found in gymnasiums and backyards around the country that is usually 12-16 feet in length or diameter, and the round mini-trampoline of about 3 feet in diameter that can be used and stored just about anywhere.

Before deciding to exercise on a trampoline, as with any sport or exercise regime, always get permission from your doctor.When purchasing a trampoline or borrowing one from a friend or neighbor, safety precautions are paramount.Mini-trampolines should be used on a hard, level surface, ideally surrounded by soft mats, in the event of a fall.If used indoors, see to it that it is used properly in relation to the height of the ceiling.For a standard 8-foot ceiling, very soft bouncing or a jog is all that can be done safely.If the ceiling is quite high, jumping can be higher.Test it a few times first, and see how close your head comes to the ceiling.Children should always be supervised when using a mini-trampoline indoors.

Larger trampolines can be extremely dangerous if not used properly.A pad should cover the outer metal rim and springs, and as with a mini-tramp, the large trampoline should be set up on level ground, free of low hanging trees or wires.It is best set up in an open area away from rooftops or climbing apparatus, to reduce the temptation to jump off of something onto the trampoline.For added safety, safety net enclosures are now available to attach to most trampolines; these are especially valuable if children will be jumping.Also, it is rarely safe to have more than one person on a trampoline at one time.But since most people will disregard this precaution, especially children, again, put up a safety enclosure, and limit the number of people on the trampoline to two.

When the trampoline is safely installed and the doctor gives the go-ahead, the fun begins.Mini-trampolines can be used for jogging, gently bouncing, jumping hard, or as a springboard for jumping off.Jogging and bouncing are self-explanatory.Jumping hard can mean one of two things: simply jumping up and down as high and as hard as possible, and jumping up and doing specific stretches at the pinnacle of the jump.The latter of the two jumps can mean several things; usually it simply means stretching one's legs out in a split, bringing the legs forward in a type of sitting position, reaching as high as possible with the arms, and so forth.There are also simple jumps that encourage dexterity and balance. One example would be standing on one foot and bouncing slightly, counting to ten, and then changing to the other foot.With a little creativity, many muscles can be worked and stretched.

Large trampolines open up a whole world of possibilities.Not only can all the above exercises be done, like on the mini-trampoline, but also the large surface area allows bouncing on more than just our feet.Multiple variations of bouncing can be tried.Alternating bouncing while standing and then sitting, also known as a seat drop or seat bounce, works the abdominal muscles when bouncing back up from sitting to standing.Alternating bouncing while standing and then kneeling, also known as the knee drop or knee bounce, works the quadriceps, calves, and gluteal muscles.Alternating bouncing while standing and then lying on one's stomach, also known as the belly drop of belly bounce, works shoulder and lower back muscles; this one is tricky, though, so be careful.Well known flips and twists can be done by those trained with sufficient pads and spotters, but they are not recommended for home or casual use.

Why use a trampoline, when jogging, walking, or jumping rope can be sufficient?Jumping on a trampoline is almost identical to jumping rope, but the unforgiving impact to joints is absent.While children don't usually suffer these aches and pains, any adult athlete can testify to the knee and ankle pain resulting from running, aerobics, and other high impact exercises.Also, recent studies have shown that weight-bearing exercises practiced in childhood and adolescence significantly increase bone mass, reducing the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

Mini-trampolines are a fun, convenient means of indoor and outdoor exercise for any skill level, and a large trampoline can be a fun, outdoor activity for the whole family.Be safe and enjoy!

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