Mini-trampoline exercise meets or exceeds fitness industry cardiorespiratory guidelines, specifically measuring for heart rate, oxygen consumption and caloric expenditure, according to recent study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). 

A team of ACE-enlisted researchers from the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse assessed 24 ostensibly healthy college students who had exercised a minimum of three times weekly for the last six months. Each participated in a monitored 19-minute, full-body exercise session choreographed by trampoline manufacturer JumpSport. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE), maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) and maximum heart rate (HRmax) were all routinely measured during the session, according to the study report.

The researchers juxtaposed their results with guidelines put forth by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for enhancing cardiorespiratory health. ACSM suggests exercising at 64 to 94 percent of one’s HRmax five days a week for 30 to 60 minutes a day, as well as 40 to 85 percent of one’s VO2 max. (In other words, stimulate the lungs and heart with consistency.) During the peak of the JumpSport workout—from approximately two to 17 minutes, or all but the warm-up and cool-down periods—average HRmax was 79 percent and VO2 max was 59 percent, according to the study report. This classifies as moderate-to-vigorous intensity, said lead researcher Dr. John Porcari, an exercise standard also gauged by the American Heart Association.

“We would expect participants to report ratings of perceived exertion of about 13 [RPE] at this intensity level,” Porcari said in the report, “but the subjects averaged an RPE of 11.7, or a light to moderate intensity. This may be because, while the muscles are working hard, the trampoline makes the activity less jarring. The enjoyment factor may make things easier as well.”

Not including warm-up and cool-down, men burned approximately 12.4 calories per minute during the session, and women burned 9.4. ACSM suggests burning at least 6.7 calories per minute, or 200 total calories per 30-minute workout.

According to the study report, this makes mini-trampoline exercise as effective as running six miles-per-hour on flat ground, biking 14-miles-per-hour or participating in a game of basketball, football or ultimate Frisbee. Yet, study participants didn’t find it as comparatively difficult, Porcari said in the report.

Trampolines’ unsteady surfaces were once used to improve the spatial awareness and balance of World War II fighter pilots, as well as the aerobic abilities of NASA astronauts. In the report, Porcari speculated that mini-trampolines may do the same for average exercisers, but further research is required to draw any concrete conclusions.

In a statement provided to Club Industry by ACE partner MIXTE Communications, ACE Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant said: “We saw that participants consistently thought the workout was easier than the measured heart rates and oxygen uptake levels, which should likely have a positive impact on long-term exercise adherence.”