low-intensity exercise

Get your bounce back

Slower, low-intensity exercise is very much in vogue, but for feelgood endorphins and cardiovascular fitness, nothing beats exercise that involves jumping up and down.

The wackier the workout, the more I’m keen to try it. So when I saw a group “bouncing” class on my Instagram feed, it piqued my interest. I would normally shy away from bouncing up and down, but the class looked jolly enough to persuade me.

Jumping has several health benefits, according to exercise physiologisLOt and corporate wellbeing speaker Angela Lee Jenkins. “Explosive jumping exercises can burn a lot of calories, improve cardiovascular health and help improve bone mineral density,” she says.

The exact number of calories burned by jumping exercises depends on factors such as a person’s weight, the length of the workout and how fast they perform the movements. Jumping can also help build muscle strength, improve your balance, rev up your metabolism and relieve stress and pain. “Bouncing can help stimulate the lymphatic system and increase lymph flow, clearing away toxins from the body,” says Angela. “The reduction in toxins can help reduce pain, which can instantly make us feel good.”

Researchers have found we can literally “jump for joy”. A study published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal in 2019 concluded that apart from the stressrelieving effects of exercise, certain movements express and boost joy, especially bouncing and jumping. Jumping belongs to the category of “anaerobic” exercise, which involves short spurts rather than continuous movement. This requires the body to not only consume oxygen, but also tap into its stored energy to fuel itself. Sprinting and highintensity interval training (HIIT) fall under the same category.

While it might seem like this type of exercise is best left to the young, age is not necessarily a barrier, provided you take a gradual, safety-first approach to your training. “Jumping is important for seniors when done safely and correctly to help with muscular power and fall prevention along with bone mineral density,” says Angela. However, jumping is a high-impact activity and is not for everyone, especially if you haven’t done these types of movements in quite some time. Seek a doctor’s advice if you’re pregnant, have a weak pelvic floor, or if you have a condition such as heart disease or arthritis. Caution is also warranted if you are carrying injuries or joint pain in your hips, back, ankles or knees. Even if you have a clean bill of health, it’s important to take it slow if your body isn’t used to jumping.

One of the upsides to jumping exercises is that the body weight varieties don’t require any special equipment so you can perform them at home. Among these options are squat jumps, lunge jumps and jumping jacks. There are also burpees ( jumping and then crouching down, springing out into a push-up position and then back to a crouch before returning to the initial standing jump), which are, admittedly, not everyone’s favourite exercise. There are also plenty of more “out there”, in-studio options if you would like to leap into something fresh.

“A ‘bouncy’ workout such as jumping rope, barre or bungee fitness provides many health benefits,” says co-founder of Flow Athletic, Ben Lucas. “It can help to work the muscles in your legs, target the little muscles you may have forgotten existed and strengthen your bones due to the impact. It is great for your core as you rely on your core to help you balance and stabilise and, depending on the style of bouncy workout, it will also work multiple planes of movement. Your body in everyday life moves in a variety of ways, so working different planes of movement is a good way to stay mobile.”

Those looking to lose weight can see significant energy-burning results by adding even a small quantity of jumping to their routine. “You can burn 200-300 calories by doing 15 minutes of jump rope, which is a good amount for someone looking to manage their weight or lose some weight,” says Ben.

So, how much bouncing around should you be doing to maintain your fitness? According to Ben, you can easily sneak some jumping into your workouts during the week as part of your warm-up. “In general, you should be working out three to five times a week and ideally clocking 7000-plus steps every day,” he says. “You could add skipping into your routine; for example, if you are doing a strength workout, you could add 10 to 15 minutes of skipping as a warm-up to get your heart rate up. Workouts such as barre, rebounding, dance, afro-step and bungee are fun ways to work out your entire body. I would go for two classes a week alongside some strength training and walking, running or cardio.”

This might sound like a lot, but ultimately, it’s about having fun and staying fit as best you can, so take the leap in a way that suits you.

Article featured in WellBeing 209 

Rebecca Douglas

Rebecca Douglas

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