This Surprisingly Fun Form of Exercise Burns Just as Many Calories As Running

As it turns out, trampoline-based exercises burn a ton of calories. They're also safer and more fun than running.

Not many people like running.

It can be dull. It can be exhausting. The pounding it puts on your body can lead to overuse injuries.

But it's pretty darn good exercise, so a lot of us force ourselves to do it. However, a new study highlights a surprising alternative to running, which might also be a whole lot more fun.

Trampolines—like jet skis and pizza—are objectively fun. But the physical benefits of trampolining have long been overlooked.

To help fill this research gap, the American Council of Exercise enlisted the help of John Porcari, Ph.D., and his team at the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse.

Their study sought to determine how good a trampoline-centric workout can be. The participants were 24 active college students. After getting acclimated with a mini-trampoline, they each performed a 19-minute workout routine designed by JumpSport. While the exact specifics of the workout were not made available, here's a taste of what a typical JumpSport workout looks like:

The participants' heart rates and VO2 max were collected every minute, and their calorie expenditure was based on the VO2 data. Every five minutes, participants were asked about their rate of perceived exertion, or RPE, essentially how hard they felt like they were working.

RELATED: Why VO2 Max is Important For Athletes

The results proved that the workout was not only effective, but that the participants seemed to enjoy themselves more than if they had done an equivalent amount of running. During the workout portion of the routine, men burned an average of 12.4 calories per minute and women burned 9.4 calories per minute. This level of calorie burning is approximately equivalent to running 6 miles per hour on flat ground, biking at 14 miles per hour or playing football, basketball or ultimate frisbee.

According to Dr. Porcari, the exercise intensity achieved during this research was expected to be moderate to vigorous. "We would expect participants to report ratings of perceived exertion of about 13 at this intensity level," Pocari said in a press release. "But the subjects averaged an RPE of 11.7, or a light to moderate intensity."

Essentially, participants didn't feel like they were working as hard as they actually were. While that might have something to do with the fact that bouncing around on a trampoline is fun, the low-impact nature of the exercise might also be a factor. Running puts a pounding on your body, especially on cement roads, which are not very forgiving. Trampolines, on the other hand, are extremely forgiving. "While the muscles are working hard, the trampoline makes the activity less jarring," Dr. Pocari said.

The unstable surface of a trampoline also makes the exercises more challenging, since they require more balance and core strength. That's a big reason why professional athletes like Luol Deng and Leandro Barbosa use trampoline-based movements in their training. "It's low impact. It requires balance and stabilization. And it's good dynamic, explosive exercise," says Elias Karras, Deng's trainer and the founder of EFT Sports Performance.

If you're interested in incorporating a trampoline into your workouts, check out the class schedule at some local gyms. Many offer trampoline-based workout classes. If you can acquire a mini-trampoline (most retail for under $100), you can perform a wide variety of trampoline-based exercises at home.

RELATED: Leandro Barbosa is Using Trampolines to Prepare for His 14th NBA Season


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: CARDIO | STABILITY AND BALANCE | RUNNING | SPORTS PERFORMANCE