One of my favorite forms of exercise in the past several years is "rebounding" ? performing a variety of movements on a mini-trampoline. Usually no larger than a yard in diameter, most often circular, but sometimes square, a rebounder is safe and easy to use, relatively inexpensive, time efficient, and enjoyable.
Another major plus is the convenience factor. A rebounder can be used just about anywhere where there is a flat, supporting surface. So, unless you live in some place with extremely low ceilings or where the floor is about to collapse, you can rebound in the comfort of your own home. It is wonderful for those days when the roads are slicked with ice or you just don?t have the time or energy to run down to the gym.
The efficiency factor is also important. You don't need to go anywhere . You don't even need to change your clothes. Just slip off your shoes, loosen your collar and jump on. It could be for a few minutes before going to work - or after coming home, before going to bed, or during that sleepy time in the mid-afternoon.
You can do it while watching the Red Sox, Friends, Oprah or the Iron Chef (What, you don't know about the Iron Chef?), or listening to 'All Things Considered' or to your favorite music... You get the idea.
Personally, I like doing it in the stillness of the night, fixing my eyes on the wood grain pattern of the door that leads down to the basement - just a yard or two in front of me. It doesn't take long before the repetitive up & down, the focus of my eyes and the rhythmic sound of the springs lulls me into something of a meditative trance.
Now, it might seem a bit over the top to dub the study of rebounding 'Reboundology', but some people have done just that. Reboundologists like to look at the scientific reasons while rebounding is good for you.
Generally, there are many different reasons why rebounding is a great form of exercise. It is a wonderful stimulation of the lymphatic system throughout the body which promotes a systemic cleansing of all tissues. It is an effective and gentle way to promote cardiovascular health, to stimulate the lungs and respiratory system, to deliver more oxygen to the cells, strengthen the skeletal system and connective tissues, and calm the nervous system.
One of the key elements that makes rebounding a unique and beneficial form of exercise is that it works against gravity. The repetitive bouncing up and down against the pull of gravity acts as a very effective stimulant the lymphatic system, stimulating the flow of blood and other body fluids, strengthening all the connective tissues without traumatizing the musculoskeletal system.
Here is a sampling of some references to the health benefits of rebounding put together by Alber Carter, one of its foremost advocates the founder of the American Institute of Reboundology and developer of his own line of equipment:
"The mini-trampoline [rebounder] provides a convenient form of exercise with a major advantage being its apparent low level of trauma to the musculoskeletal system." Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, 1990: 10; 401-408
"The findings indicate that exercise on a miniature trampoline may provide a safe, adequate indoor exercise for normal and many cardiac patients of varied ages, if guidelines concerning rate of stepping and height of knee lifts are adhered to." Journal of Medical Science for Sport and Exercise, 1980; 12:118
"For similar levels of heart rate and oxygen consumption, the magnitude of the biomechanical stimuli is greater with jumping on a trampoline than with running, a finding that might help identify acceleration parameters needed for the design of remedial procedures to avert deconditioning in persons exposed to weightlessness." N.A.S.A., Journal of Applied Physiology 49(5): 881-887, 1980
Another very interesting reference from Dr. Walt Scott, a medical doctor and a founding member of the American Holistic Medical Association reports that "the physical therapy department at the University of Michigan medical school reported, about 1980, that the very mild up and down motion from gentle rebounding on a mini-trampoline would very significantly improve the functional breathing capacity of people with severe emphysema. This improvement was separate from the exercise portion of this motion since someone else could do the bouncing while the patient simply sat on the middle of the trampoline."
While all the scientific evidence promoting the health benefits of rebounding is interesting and reassuring, I don?t want to overlook the fact that it is also enjoyable. As long as one doesn?t overdo it, it is a gentle form of exercise that results in a pleasant sense of well-being.
It isn't quite as old as the hula hoop, but rebounders, otherwise known as "mini-trampolines" were a faddish exercise equipment a quarter century ago and are now gaining renewed popularity.
One can simply jump up and down. jog, or perform any number of more complicated exercises on these tiny trampolines in the comforts of your own home. And there are now rebounding classes where participants are instructed to do leg kicks, jumping jacks knee lifts and even abdominal crunches throughout the course of an hour.
Rebounding enthusiasts can choose amongst a variety of movements depending on the objective of their workouts, age, vitality and agility. Some of the basic forms of exercise performed on rebounders are:
Seated bounce: sit on the rebounder and do mini-bounces by moving your arms up and down. Increase the abdominal focus by keeping your legs bent at a 45° angle.
Health bounces: Stand on the rebounder and do mini-bounces so your feet never leave the mat. This gentle up and down motion activates the one-way valves of the lymphatic system and assists circulation.
Strength Bounces: Bounce high with both feet leaving the mat at the same time. Be sure to keep your abdominals engages and use your kegal contractions to work on strengthening the pelvic floor.
Aerobic Bounces: Bounce alternately from leg to leg mimicking a walk, jog or kicking motion. Continuous rhythmical bounces increase aerobic fitness.
Physical fitness experts tout the benefits of rebounding because it combines dance movements, aerobic movements, sports-specific movements. It works a number of muscle groups, including the hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes, while providing a solid aerobic workout. And the the elastic-like surface of the trampoline is much more forgiving to that, unlike jogging which can be painful and damaging to the knees - rebounding is considered low-impact. Rebounding is also enjoyable. After all you are basically jumping up and down like a kid.
One of the greatest health benefits of rebounding is the stimulation the lymphatic system receives from even a modest workout. The lymphatic system is one of the most crucial parts of what most people generically refer to as the "immune system". Its job is similar to a sewage system, basically ridding our body of foreign substances, and removing dead cells, blood proteins and other toxic materials.
The lymphatic system consists of many parts. There are lymph vessels which are a network of blind-ended vessels that carry lymph in one direction only and the lymph fluid which whitish, odorless fluid that contains lymphocytes, antibodies, proteins, fatty, molecules, and nourishment. Lymph nodes are filtration centers and lymphocyte storage compartments, arranged in clusters and ranging in size from a pinhead to an almond.
Lymph ducts are channels where the lymph from vessels flow. (On the right side of the head, neck and upper torso, the lymph flows into the Right Lymphatic Duct and all other lymphatic vessels drain into the Thoracic Duct.) Lymphocytes are generally divided into B-cells and T-cells found in lymph, blood, bone, bone marrow, thymus, spleen, and tonsils, which produce antibodies, attacking and destroying antigens.
Other structures that are part of the system are: the tonsils, which are lymphoid tissue that protects against bacteria attempting to enter through the nasal and oral cavities, the thymus gland, which is endocrine and lymphatic organ where T-cells mature, and the spleen, a lymphoid organ where blood and lymph are cleansed, iron from hemoglobin is preserved for future use, and lymphocytes are stored until being called into action to respond to antigens
But when the lymph becomes overloaded, congested or otherwise clogged a variety of symptoms arise that can be as simple as swollen glands or sore throats, and progress in severity to recurring systemic infections, allergies to cancer. (Lymphoma, a very common form of cancer, is a general term for cancer of the lymphatic system. Over 50,000 people are diagnosed with it annually.)
Our modern day sedentary lifestyles, along with pollution, poor elimination and diets high in fats, sugars, additives and preservatives are a double whammy on the the lymphatic system. On the one hand, it is understimulated because of inadequate rigorous movement on which it depends. On the other hand, it is being overloaded by ever increasing amounts and variety of toxin that need to be filtered out of the body.
Since the lymphatic system must depend on motion, the rebounder is an excellent form of stimulation. Almost any other form of exercise ?running, team sports swimming, weight lifting, fitness exercises, etc. ? occur on a horizontal plane. But when rebounding, the body moves vertically and the gravitational pull along with the continual acceleration and deceleration of movements stimulates every cell of the body. The bouncing motion effectively moves and recycles the lymph and the entire blood supply through the circulatory system many times during the course of the rebounding session.
Obviously, rebounding is a wonderful stimulation for the circulatory system as a whole and therefore is beneficial for the heart. Other conditions of the circulatory system such as varicose veins can either be prevented or ameliorated through rebounding.
The improved lymphatic flow and cellular movement can not only reduce the symptoms of arthritis, but also remove many of the toxins which create the underlying condition. Some people with cancer similarly have experienced great benefits from the consistent use of rebounders. A suggested routine is a simple two minute workout every hour which continually flushes out toxins and decreases the toxic load on the body. This gives the body a greater opportunity to rebuild itself.
The acceleration and deceleration along with increased gravitational pull that occurs during rebounding can also help build bone density. Therefore, it can helps to prevent osteoporosis and can even help to reverse it.
Rebounding can also have a positive influence on the bladder, strengthening the sphincter muscles and increasing control. Along with appropriate diet, it is a wonderful way to control weight, strengthen muscles, increase coordination and generally rejuvenate the body.