I grew up in a family of five kids. Now I’m raising five boys. Trampolines have been a source of fun and bonding for my my entire life, first with my parents and siblings, and then with my children.
Every kid should have a trampoline because 1) it’s a fun, easy way to exercise, 2) it has cognitive and physical benefits, and 3) it provides a backyard location where family members and friends can build relationships, establish and navigate rules, and bond socially.
Fun and Easy Exercise
A trampoline is a toy but it’s also a great tool for exercise. If you ask a child why she jumps on the trampoline, she’ll tell you it’s because it’s FUN! She might say it’s because she can get so high in the air sometimes that she feels like she’s flying.
At the same time they’re having fun, kids are getting exercise and fresh air. Trampolines have been used as an incentive for decades by parents who wanted their kids to spend more time outside.
My kids would even jump on the trampoline in the dead of winter when normally we’d all be hunkering down inside and going stir-crazy with cabin fever. Any yard feature that can do that is welcome in my backyard!
They’re establishing an outdoor habit of physical exertion that will bless their lives for the rest of their lives.
Aside from the fresh air and sunshine, multiple muscle groups in the body are engaged during jumping, or even walking, on the trampoline. It burns calories and builds lean muscles.
The best part is that kids don’t even realize they are exercising because they’re having too much fun.
Cognitive Benefits of Trampolining
Oxytocin For Flying
That flying feeling many kids (and adults) report when jumping on the trampoline is also known as a feeling of weightlessness.
Whenever the body feels that weightless sensation, it triggers a hormone called oxytocin which gives the jumper a feeling of well-being and lifts the mood.
During 2020, the year of Covid-19 and earthquakes, pestilence, wildfires, and Greek-letter hurricanes, kids could really use a mood boost that’s natural and easily accessible.
Lots of kids are out of school right now, or doing virtual school, which is tough. Parents who work all day in front of a computer know the toll it can take on the mind and body.
When we see our kids dealing with these same stressors, it’s a relief to know that they can run to the backyard and jump until they feel that weightless joy.
Exercise For Focus
Speaking of academics, lots of kids struggle to sit still and focus on their lessons. Some of them have ADHD. But some of them are just still developing the ability to focus and memorize, two important skills for learning.
Researchers have found that exercise like trampolining are a great precursor to an academic learning session. The engagement of the physical body somehow triggers the mind to be more capable of creating new memories and focusing.
Follow up with more physical activity about 90 minutes into the academic learning session for best results.
The mind, body, spirit connection is strong with children. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Physical Benefits of Trampolining
In addition to exercise, fresh air, and sunshine, trampolining provides other physical benefits.
Jumping on a trampoline activates the vestibular system, a part of the nervous system that receives information from the inner ear and impacts balance.
The vestibular system lets you know if your head is tilted or if your whole body is upside down.
Trampolining gives the vestibular system lots of sensation to work with, and creates a feedback loop that reinforces a child’s balance and ability to navigate his world.
There are other activities, like monkey-bar-traversing and tree-climbing, that help with this, but trampolining is one of the very best.
Core strength is another physical benefit. Along with developing balance, kids who have a trampoline in their backyards develop very strong core muscles.
Core muscles aren’t just important for doing sit-ups. They impact natural muscle memory for posture, which has an effect on a lot of body systems if posture is poor.
Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood fame once said that “play is the real work of childhood.”
In playing on the trampoline, children develop their minds and bodies, along with healthy habits and a positive relationship with the outdoors.
Social Benefits of Trampolining
All of the aforementioned reasons every kid needs a trampoline are really important and reason enough to put a trampoline in your backyard.
However, the social benefits are perhaps the most profound.
For one thing, trampolines come with rules. Each household decides which rules they will enforce on their trampoline.
Having a really fun toy that comes with rules is great practice for navigating social strictures, those parts of society that give us boundaries for our behavior.
Children play together and enforce the rules, or break them. In either case, they are bonding by establishing their own shared understanding of the rules.
Families spend time watching each other show off. “Hey Dad, watch me!”
Every kid wants his parents’ attention, and a trampoline gives him something to show off about. It’s simple and it’s accessible because it’s right there in the backyard.
When parents praise their children’s athletic antics on the trampoline, they are building confidence that will last a lifetime.
But they’re building more than that–they’re building parent-child relationships that are the foundation of so much of what that child will believe about the world and her place in it.
A trampoline is not just for jumping.
I learned this lesson in my own family of origin. Sometimes a trampoline is for camping out under the stars in sleeping bags.
Sometimes a trampoline is for afternoon picnics of messy watermelon or pomegranates. (No jumping allowed.)
Sometimes a trampoline is for wrestling with the dogs, or each other.
Trampolines have been the location of some of my favorite childhood memories. Maybe it’s the oxytocin, or the exercise-induced memory making, but those memories ring clear even now that I’m the mom.
Why should every child have a trampoline in the backyard?
If you grew up with one, you already know!