Bouncing Your Way to Better Health

Bouncing Your Way to Better Health

Trampolining may offer unique benefits for older women in particular, who are at higher risk of developing conditions like osteoporosis and urinary incontinence than men. About 70 percent of American women over the age of 60 suffer from some form of urinary incontinence. The largest segment, about 53.1 percent of women in this age group in a recent study, experience involuntary loss of urine caused by physical activity (or laughing, sneezing and coughing) that increases abdominal pressure.

Some evidence suggests trampolining may preserve or strengthen the muscles that can prevent this. One small study published in 2018 suggests that the pelvic floor muscles are highly active during mini-trampoline jumping and another, not yet published, indicates that pelvic floor function can be improved by rebounding. In that study, 37 postmenopausal women did 30-minute mini-trampoline workouts three times a week. After 12 weeks, the women had better scores on urinary incontinence and higher bone mineral density. (Their bone mineral density returned to normal when they stopped rebounding regularly.)

Anja Fricke, a graduate student at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand, and the lead author on the study, said women should start with simple jumps while holding onto a handrail if available. Start with intervals of eight minutes of bouncing followed by two-minute breaks. To get the pelvic floor muscles particularly activated, Ms. Fricke suggests squeezing a soft gym ball or a lightweight kids’ soccer ball between the legs; then jumping by pushing off with both legs while keeping the ball in place.

Trampolining may also be better on your joints than exercises like running, basketball or tennis, said Ms. Fricke. Much of the force of jumping and landing is absorbed by the trampoline’s elastic surface, making it easier on your joints than jumping on the ground.

“Running on a treadmill can be super hard on the joints and the knees. Doing jumps on the floor can be hard,” said Nicole Schott, a personal trainer at Future in Cranberry Township, Pa., who developed trampoline classes. Rebounding “allows for you to do those higher-intensity or even more complex movements without killing your body.”

Myriam Gilles, 51, has been rebounding since 2009 at a bouncing studio called The Ness in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. The 50-minute classes blend dance choreography, hand weight exercises, situps and planks, all on the trampoline. “I bounce and I SoulCycle,” said Ms. Gilles. “They’re just gentler to the body and have a community feeling that I love.”

She said trampolining also connects her to distant memories of her childhood in Brooklyn jumping double Dutch. “I was one of those Black girls who loved to jump rope. I sometimes think that there’s something about the trampoline that reminds me of that,” she said.

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