This Unexpected Exercise Burns Just As Many Calories As Running

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Whether you're exercising for weight loss, muscle strength, flexibility, or to boost your mental health, working out can sometimes become mundane. Sure, we might be creatures of habit, but there are times when mixing things up can feel exhilarating and keep you motivated. As it turns out, there's an explosive cardio workout that burns just as many calories as running that you can take up for times like these: pogoing, also known as pogo stick cardio or pogo stick workouts. Apparently, you can burn 600 calories in an hour with this childhood play activity that's evolved into a wacky cardio workout and even an extreme sport. 

If you've never heard of a pogo stick before, the mental picture you're looking for involves standing on a stick made of metal that has bars for your feet and bouncing up and down while holding on to handles that are also conveniently attached to the stick. Your form is upright, although more adventurous pogo stick enthusiasts may bounce at angles. The instrument itself was first patented by George Hansburg in 1919, but the wooden structure with steel coils and foot pegs has since evolved into metal sticks with easy-grip foam handles and air-powered liftoff mechanisms.

Regardless of how you start out, pogo stick workouts are one of the best exercises to improve balance

How do you work out on a pogo stick?

For children who've used the device, picking this up as adults might be a breeze, but newbies may find it a bit unnerving. The more challenging part might be finding a stick that works for your frame. While there are plenty of pogo sticks for children, adult ones might require more effort to find. Companies like Vurtego offer them, and you can also find them online. Keep in mind that you can certainly fall and hurt yourself, especially at first, so invest in helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads.

While you can technically jump up and down indoors (given the ceilings are high enough), finding an open space (like a big turf with solid ground that's not mushy) is a great way to get comfortable with the exercise. You may want to test the ground out before you start bobbing around. You need some compression to get the right kind of bounce. The next step involves getting on the stick. Enlist the help of a friend who can hold the stick in place, or use a fence or pole nearby to balance yourself as you hop on. Keep the device close to your body and jump up and down in a straight line without angling yourself, especially when you're starting out.

Ensure your feet are at the center of the foot rests. If you start feeling like you're losing balance, push the stick away from you and land softly on the ground. Practice makes perfect, as they say. The more you bob, the more comfortable you'll be.

What are the benefits of pogoing?

Your core and back are among the main muscle groups that pogoing will work out, as you'll be actively engaging them while trying to stay upright. So if you're looking for ab exercises that should be in your workout routine, consider adding a pogo stick to the mix. Pogo cardio is also great for your legs and butt. Your quadriceps and calves, in particular, will thank you for this fun exercise. Your glute muscles might just become firmer and more toned. 

One of the unexpected benefits is that it's an exercise that will put you in a better mood. What's more fun than taking in the great outdoors while you see the world from a slightly higher angle every time you hit the air? Plus, adding plyometrics (like pogo stick cardio) to your workout routine can increase power output from your muscles, improve agility and nimbleness, and build joint and muscle strength and flexibility. However, if you're already experiencing joint pains, bopping on a pogo stick might be hard on your knees and ankles, so consult a physical therapist before trying the exercise. 

Also, even though cardio exercises like running and pogoing are great for your heart health, if you have an underlying heart condition, you're better off getting the okay from your doctor before pursuing it. If you don't want to buy a pogo stick (because they can be expensive), try doing pogo jumps instead.