In the trampoline industry, there seems to be a misconception or maybe a disagreement on how many calories are burned during a 1 hour session, let's say for example, at a trampoline park. Some say as many as 1,000 calories can be burned and others say things like, “More calories are burned during a trampoline bounce session then an hour on a treadmill.” Many parks spin these numbers in different ways but is this really the case?
**As you can see you have to be busting your butt to burn 1000 calories
Let’s look at the facts instead! How many calories are actually burned during a traditional trampoline session at a park? First we must briefly describe some physiology to give a base for the concepts we will briefly cover. All living organisms burn calories to create energy for the body. Scientists experiment with a test called “Bomb Calorimetry,” putting a person in a special sealed room where they do a variety of exercises in different clothes, at different starting temperatures and any other variation they can think of. The scientists can measure how much the heat of the room increases overall and the rule of thumb is that for every 1 degree celsius that the room increases, that is 1 calorie burned or 4184 joules of energy released by the body.
The exact details of how the experiments are done are not that necessary to understand but the overall message is very important. Scientists have made a unit of measurement for how “vigorous” an activity is by doing these calculations mentioned above. This is called 1 MET (Metabolic Equivalent).
The human body uses oxygen to create fuel for the body. A very over-simplified explanation, however, we do not need to go into further details for the purpose of this article. The amount of oxygen used by a typical average person at rest is 3.5 ml of oxygen per kg per minute (3.5ml/kg/min). A soccer player at the elite level is somewhere around 60-70ml/kg/min and the highest recorded MET is approximately 97.5ml/kg/min by a cyclist named Oskar Svendsen.
By calculating the number of MET’s of any given activity is one way of categorizing how vigorous an activity is and therefore how many calories are burned during the exercise.
The above chart is part of a 12 page document for typical MET values for different activities. The values range are from 2000 but as you can see they have not changed very much from the previous round of testing in 1993.
You can see that values of 10.0+ are associated with “Vigorous Effort”. Values of 3.0 MET’s are associated with fishing and hunting as it is more of a strategy sport and not as much heavy lifting besides the occasional fish. Trampoline is somewhere in the middle. Remember that every time someone bounces and they are let’s say in the air for 1 second, does not mean they actually are using energy for 1 second. Trampoline has a loading phase of about 0.3 seconds and the energy and calorie burn generally is in the bed of the trampoline. A person jumping low is in the trampoline bed for approximately 0.1- 0.3 seconds, meaning the load is potentially 1/3 to 1/10 that of a constant vigorous exercise such as jogging. If you add in the calories burned to move the arms and legs while in the air it still is not a huge number because there is very little resistance while free floating in the air.
The real “energy expenditure” only happens in the bed of the trampoline for those 0.1 - 0.3 seconds.
Typical MET Values for a Variety of Different Exercises:
Many professionals will give a MET value for trampoline that is around 5-6 MET’s
The equation for calories burned at a given MET value is:
_____MET Value x 3.5 x _____kg body weight ÷ 200 = calories burned per minute.
So let’s say we give the MET value of even 5 which is a moderate intensity. Let’s use me as an example. I am 145 Lbs (64Kg) (roughly).
5 x 3.5 x 64
————— = 5.6 calories burned per minute
Therefore, in a 30 minute average bounce session for someone like me (average size) I would burn —
5.6 x 30 = 168 Calories
Let’s look at an overweight person that is at around 100 Kg.
5 x 3.5 x 100
—————- = 8.75 Calories
8.75 x 30 = 262.5 Calories
As you can see even if you were to do it for a full hour you would be hard pressed to burn even 500 calories. Remember the overweight individual will also not be able to go for 30 minutes straight. You can add in calories for rest with is called Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) which is the term used for the extra energy needed to get the body back to resting level, ie. recovery. In media this is called “After Burn” and it is not anywhere close to what some try to make you believe. This amount is very minimal but would still result in a reduction of the overall calories burned. Remember, the above numbers are ASSUMING that the person is JUMPING THE ENTIRE 30 MINUTES!
Here is someone else that did the calculation that actually believed it was even less.
As you can clearly see, I was even over estimating the calories burned by giving a high MET value compared to this scientist. But do not worry, that is not the selling point of trampoline.
The sell is not that you will burn more calories per minute but that you will “burn more overall” because trampoline is fun, enabling you to maintain the exercise for longer periods of time without getting bored during the workout. This in turn means you are more likely to come back more often to train. Many children will spend hours at a trampoline park and burn many more calories overall than if you put them on a treadmill, where boredom sets in relatively quickly. As well, they are more likely to repeat the exercise if they are having fun. In fact, most of them don’t even realize how many calories they are burning during a one hour bounce session at a gym or park.
As a business owner you can potentially create a weak spot in your marketing if someone decides to look into these facts. I have explained this to a few different park owners and some believe that because they read a opinionated article that popped up on google it is reliable. I reached out to a few publishers of these specific articles and they could not provide any references so be careful.