When you think of “rebounding” you may think of bouncing back from a broken heart. That’s good for you too, but it’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about, essentially, jumping up and down. Rebounding had a moment in the 80’s, but it may be time to bring this fun fad back into the fitness limelight.
What is rebounding?
Rebounding typically refers to jumping on a mini-trampoline or specially designed “rebounder” (an extra firm mini trampoline, often with a handlebar). But it can consist of any activity that has a moderately jarring effect on your system, such as:
- Running or jogging
- Jumping in place
- Dancing or aerobics (if there is some hopping or jumping involved)
What are the benefits of rebounding?
- Drains your lymphatic system—this is the biggie; more below
- Helps build strong bones—impact exercises like rebounding stimulate bone cells to grow and slow resorption
- Helps improve balance, coordination, posture and proprioception (ability to know where your body is oriented in space)
- Builds muscles in your legs and core
- Improves endurance—a 1980 NASA study found that rebounding may be twice as effective as running on a treadmill, in terms of providing cardio benefits, without the added stress on ankles and knees
- Improves pelvic floor health—anecdotally, rebounding can strengthen pelvic muscles in women, preventing urinary incontinence and stabilizing hip joints
A glimpse at lymph
Let’s talk about your lymphatic system in a little more depth. It’s a fascinating part of your anatomy, not well understood by many people, and benefits from rebounding.
Every day, two to three liters of fluid leak out of your blood vessels. Who knew? Your lymphatic system absorbs this fluid, filters it, and then returns it to the cardiovascular system. If your lymphatic system were suddenly removed, you would die within a day.
The lymphatic system consists of 600-700 lymph nodes, which processes the fluid, and a network of vessels throughout your entire body. Lymph fluid runs through these vessels.
The primary function of the lymphatic system is to manufacture and distribute white blood cells, and to drain dead white blood cells, extraneous fluid and other waste products from your cells.
Unlike your blood, which circulates in a loop throughout your body, lymph runs in only one direction —toward your neck, where it drains into the blood circulatory system via two veins on either side of your clavicle, or collar bones.
Also unlike your blood circulatory system, which is pumped by your heart, your lymphatic system has no pump; it relies on gravity and muscle contractions to keep it moving. Exercise and especially rebounding help keep your lymph system moving.
Your lymph system can become overwhelmed, as when you have puffy eyes in the morning, or your sinuses are slow to drain. Whether or not your lymph system is overwhelmed, it could always use a boost to keep it running efficiently.
Supports the immune system
Managing the circulation of white blood cells means the lymph system is an important part of the immune system. Therefore rebounding, which helps boost lymph movement, is supportive to the immune system.
Studies show that rebounding does in fact increase the activity of white blood cells. However, the practical implications of this are not clear. There is no scientific proof to date that rebounding will prevent the common cold, or cure cancer, as some trampoline manufacturers suggest.
Rebounding compared to other exercises
Rebounding has numerous advantages over other forms of cardiovascular exercise:
- Low impact—rebounding provides all the above health benefits with gentle movements; it is more low-impact than running.
- Convenient—if you have a rebounder at home, you don’t have to drive to a gym or go outside to get a great workout. You don’t need workout clothes and you can control the intensity and duration of your exercise.
- Fun!—it’s hard not to smile when you’re bouncing. It will bring out the kid in you. And when exercise is fun, you are more likely to stick with it.
How to bounce
When you’re rebounding, vary your movements to keep from wearing out any one muscle group. Do one exercise movement for one minute, or a count of 60, and then change it up.
Here are example movements:
- Jump up and down on both feet
- Jog in place, kicking feet behind
- Job in place, high-stepping
- Jump and twist side-to-side
- Kick out alternating legs to the front
- Kick out alternating legs to the sides
- Criss-cross legs to the sides
- Criss-cross legs front and back
- Jumping jacks
- Jump in a circle; then switch directions
Add arm motions, wrist weights or ankle weights to intensify the exercises.
Here’s a good YouTube video showing many of these and other exercises:
You don’t need workout clothes to use the rebounder. But I will say to the ladies, a sports bra is helpful.
How often and long to bounce
There isn’t a clear recommendation from science, but some studies used 15 minutes three times a week and found benefits.
One of the things that I love about my rebounder is how easy it is to use, and how energizing it is. When I’m working at home and need a break, I go jump on the rebounder for five minutes, and then feel awake and ready to sit back down and get to work. I do this two or three times a day. On other days, I will do an entire 20-minute dedicated workout on the rebounder.
As always, check with your physician before starting any new exercise regimen. And stay safe – the trampolines with a handlebar are a good option. Stop rebounding if you feel any pain anywhere.
Rebounding doesn’t require big, trampoline-style jumps. Gentle jumping woks fine. That’s why rebounders are the go-to device – they are easy on your knees and ankles.
Which rebounder should I get?
There are many brands to choose from, but three of the largest and most reputable are:
You’ll pay between $200-$500 for a good rebounder. Size and durability of materials drive the price differences.
Some models are foldable to make them easier to store or transport (but seriously, who takes a rebounder on vacation with them?). Many come with options to include handlebars, for safety.
Most rebounders range from 39-54” in diameter. A larger rebounder may make it easier to do different types of exercise, but it will also takes up more space to use and store, unless it’s foldable.
You’ll have a choice of spring or bungee cord construction. Both work fine. If you choose bungee cords, be sure to select the right cord strength for your weight. This may limit the ability of other people in your household to use the rebounder if they are of a significantly different weight than you.
Springs can get squeaky, but so can bungee cords, over time. Springs can be oiled but bungee cords cannot. Bungee cords will need to be replaced every 1-3 years, depending on use.
Differences among rebounder brands
Bellicon innovated the use of bungee cords in rebounder construction. Their rebounders provide a deeper bounce, which is why their equipment is taller than other brands. They say their rebounders are more buoyant, and therefore gentler on the back and joints than spring construction.
Cellercise, on the other hand, says that their patented spring system automatically adjust to different body weights and never wears out. They also claim that their bounce is less “sluggish” than that of bungee cord rebounders.
JumpSport, also a bungee cord brand, offers the widest variety of model options.
The choice comes down to your preference in price, size, features and “bounce” style. I have a spring version at home and I’m very happy with it.
Role of rebounding in your fitness regimen
Let me jump to the conclusion (LOL)!
Rebounding plays a unique role in your fitness regimen. It can help boost your lymph system and strengthen bones, among other benefits, and is gentle on your joints.
Rebounding hasn’t taken off yet in popularity the way, say, interval training has, or yoga. But you may be hearing more about it soon.
Thanks for reading folks– I gotta bounce!
- Cugusi L, Manca A, Serpe R, et al. Effects of a mini-trampoline rebounding exercise program on functional parameters, body composition and quality of life in overweight women. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2018;58(3):287-294. doi:10.23736/S0022-4707.16.06588-9.
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