Are Trampoline Workouts Safe With Arthritis?

A trampoline has lots of health benefits and is gentle on the joints. Here’s how to pick the right one.

Updated by Linda Rath | April 6, 2023

When it comes to trampolines for people with arthritis, size matters. The big backyard trampoline you may have bounced on as a kid is generally off-limits due to the relatively high risk of injury. Instead, consider one of the smaller, indoor mini-trampolines, or “rebounders,” that soared in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent research shows they provide a safe and surprisingly effective low-impact workout.

Some of the many benefits of trampolining include:
  • Strong muscles. To get a good full-body workout, you should spend at least an hour in the gym. You can get the same results in less than half the time on a trampoline. Bouncing works your abs, glutes, legs and back simultaneously, and stronger muscles support joints; add dumbbells to target your arms and shoulders. 
  • Stronger bones. In one randomized controlled trial, 40 adults with osteopenia – slightly weakened bones – were assigned to either a trampoline exercise program or conventional osteopenia treatment, such as vitamin D and calcium supplements. After three months of twice weekly sessions lasting about 60 minutes each, the trampoline group had higher bone density near the hip – an area prone to fractures. The exercisers were fitter, too, with improvements in mobility, strength and walking, and they were less worried about falling. A 2023 study of 37 postmenopausal women also found that bone density significantly increased after 12 weeks of three 30-minute trampoline workouts a week.
  • Better balance. The osteopenia trial showed gains in balance as measured by the ability to stand on one leg for at least 30 seconds – no small feat on an uneven surface. To test your balance, start by standing with both feet on the trampoline with your eyes closed; open your eyes and lift first one knee, then the other toward your chest. Finally, try jumping on one leg. It takes just 10 minutes of practice three times a week to feel steadier.
  • Pelvic floor health. A number of studies have suggested that urinary incontinence is common in young athletes in high-intensity sports, especially trampolining. But a newly published study found the opposite for postmenopausal women, who had less urinary incontinence after three months of trampoline training. For pelvic floor health, the study authors recommend starting with eight minutes of bouncing interspersed with two-minute breaks. 
  • Weight loss. Losing excess weight not only reduces the load on weight-bearing joints, but reducing fat cells helps lower inflammation. Few studies focus specifically on trampolining for weight loss, but one small study looked at the effects of 12 weeks of trampolining on 18 overweight adults, most in their 30s and 40s. Not only did the study participants lose fat and gain muscle, their blood pressure dropped significantly, their blood sugar normalized and they reported less pain.
  • Stress relief. No one has specifically studied trampolining’s effect on stress, but aerobic exercise in general releases hormones that reduce stress, anxiety and depression — conditions that people with arthritis commonly experience — and may help protect against dementia and other brain disorders. 
  • Easy on joints. The rebounder absorbs most of the impact, so you can do higher-intensity workouts safely. And trampolining may have benefits that other low-impact exercises don’t, including increased endurance, coordination and balance.

Buying a Trampoline

Most mini-trampolines have a 32- to 48-inch jumping surface. Larger models often cost more but may be worth it, depending on your height, the space you have and how you plan to exercise. For example, you’ll need more room for jumping jacks and crunches than just bouncing up and down. Also, look for a model that can bear your weight. Some rebounders are rated for around 400 pounds, others for half that.

Other important features:
  • Bungee cords. Rebounders come equipped with springs, bands or bungee cords. Bands are less durable, and some springs can be noisy and harder to assemble. Most experts recommend bungee cords for the smoothest and safest trampoline experience. Some are adjustable to make the workout more or less challenging. Beginners should stick with tighter cords.
  • A handle. Some rebounders come with an adjustable padded handle, making it extra safe for both adults and kids. If you’re a little uncertain about your balance, this is a great choice. In time, you may find you no longer need it.
  • Foldability. If space is tight, look for a foldable rebounder that can fit in a closet or under a bed.

Getting Started

If you’re new to the trampoline or haven’t been on one in decades, start by simply walking on it. You can quickly level up to jumping jacks and jogging. To move beyond the basics, check out online trampoline classes, which range from beginner to advanced. You may also be able to find an in-person class in your area, which is a good way to get more-personalized instruction.

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