Winnie The Pooh’s cheery friend Tigger is one of the world’s most famous bouncers, and it seems that his sunny disposition could have a lot to do with the spring in his step. Indeed, it has now been shown that bouncing can give children and adults these same benefits.
It all starts in the womb with the development of the vestibular system (the sense that helps us balance), which helps a fetus gain a sense of gravity. As one of the earliest senses to develop, the vestibular sense makes up much of a baby’s earliest sensory experience, and whether it’s bouncing, rocking or swinging, babies love movement. The vestibular system becomes less sensitive as we grow, but continues to play a role in mental and neurological development, affecting children’s emotions, perceptual ability, learning skills and language development.
“Children love to bounce because it’s fun, but it also enhances development, helping them to balance and gain cognitive and motor skills,” says child psychologist Linda Blair. NASA research also advocates working out on a mini trampoline as the most efficient form of exercise for improving circulation, reducing stress and improving fitness levels.
“Bouncing is like a meditation for children,” says Kate Dutnall, Head Coach at Booker Gym Club. “They find the repetition of rebound exercise very soothing.” And for children who are kinesthetic or tactile learners, an afternoon spent bouncing may even help reinforce learning that has taken place during the day.
Healthy food and exercise tips for families: www.nhs.uk/Change4Life
This article previously appeared in Junior magazine as a print article