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 kinaesthetic or tactile learners, an afternoon spent bouncing may even help reinforce learning that has taken place during the day.
7 Best Jumping Activities for Children
1. A fun way to get active indoors or outdoors by turning any floor into a giant board game. Lay out the coloured discs and use the spinner to decide the next move through the stepping stones, disappearing discs and racetrack. Suitable for ages 4yrs+ >> Galt Toys, Hop, Skip & Jump Game, £17 Amazon
2. Inspired by stepping stones in a river with each side of the triangle varying in steepness and difficulty. Just jump from stone to stone without touching the floor – and vary the position of the stones to create more challenging paths. Each stone has a rubber rim on the base which prevent them from slipping, and also protect indoor floor areas. Suitable for 2yrs + >> Children’s Balancing River Shaped Stepping Stones, from £48
3. Spin the spinner to see where you and your opponent will wear your Shake-o-meters and how you have to shake – the more you Shake, the more you score! Suitable for ages 4yrs+ >> Shake Off!, £16.99 Ideal at Amazon
4. This foam pogo jumper is a great way to help train hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills of your little one – with a squeaker included in the base that makes a funny sound with each hop. Suitable for ages 4yrs + >> Tesoky Kids Toys Pogo Stick Jumper, £17.99, Amazon
5. A super fun jump and skipping game that can be played indoors and outdoors. Just place on your ankle, spin the lap counter ball, jump the cord, and record your laps! Suitable for ages 6 yrs+ >> Jump It Lap Counter Game, £21.99 John Lewis
6. Wannabe skateboarders, snowboarders, water boarders and windsurfers can practice and develop their extreme sport skills al with the security of a gentle landing, thanks to the durable soft foam and adjustable Velcro safety straps to secure your feet to the bounce board – or, you can just pick one up and have some fun! Suitable for ages 6+ >> Trampoline Bounce Board, £109.99, Plum
7. More challenging that an average skipping rope this traditional playground game includes a 3 metre elastic rope and an 8 page skipping song book. Suitable for ages 5 yrs+ >> French Skipping Set. £3.95, Rex