Skipping, jumping, running on the spot and arm flinging on a firm mini-trampoline is an amazingly beneficial and fun form of exercise. Rebounding will do all that other forms of aerobic exercise can—strengthening your heart and lungs, firming your muscles and more—because of the unique way in which your body is subjected to the changing force of gravity when it bounces. Rebounding crosses the generation gap too. It can be done as easily and as effectively by a six-year-old as it can by an ailing seventy-year-old whose muscles and joints have long before lost some of their capacity for smooth movement. Believe it or not, there are top athletes who use rebounders as part of their training program. Yet the infirm are given rehabilitation on the same kind of rebound exercise devices. It all depends on how you use the equipment.
The units, which look like low coffee-tables, consist of a steel or aluminium frame on six or eight legs, over which is sprung a drum of firm but elastic material on which you bounce. They sit somewhere between six and ten inches off the floor, and come in many different sizes and shapes—oval, round, polygonal, square. They don't seem out of place in the corner of a kitchen, or tucked away in the bedroom. In fact, you can use a bouncer anywhere. If you’re someone who dislikes the rigmarole of changing, running and showering, or you find exercise ‘too boring for words', you can do your bouncing at home—even with small children running around. You can dress any way you like, watch movies, listen to music or carry on a conversation while you are exercising.
From a physiological point of view, what gives rebounding its power for building fitness, improving health and retarding aging is the way it makes use of the force of gravity. Apart from a Power Plate, this is the only form of overall vertical, rather than horizontal, exercise anywhere. The up and downward movement on a bouncer, coupled with acceleration-deceleration, brings about continual changes in the force that gravity exerts on your body. All your organs, the circulatory and lymphatic systems, even individual cells are energized in a way no other form of exercise can accomplish.
When running or skipping on a bouncer, the G-force at the top of the bounce is non-existent. For a moment, your body experiences the weightlessness of an astronaut in space. Then when you come down again onto the elastic mat, the pull of gravity is suddenly increased to two or three times the usual G-force on earth. This puts all parts of your body, from the tiniest cell to the longest bone, under rhythmic pressure.
The cellular stimulation the body receives from continual gravity/non-gravity exposure has remarkable and unique benefits. Waste materials in cells are gently eased out into the interstitial fluid so they can be carried through the lymph system and eliminated from the body. Increased oxygen is brought to the cells enhancing cell metabolism. Cell walls get stronger and healthier. Cells function more efficiently with repeated use of a rebounder. This leads to a gentle but effective detoxification of your whole system. The texture of your skin improves. Energy levels rise. Often even within only a few days, your body begins to look younger and feel better, freer, more alive. And because rebounding is amusing, it is a form of exercise which even resistant lounge-lizards take to. Taking it up one week doesn't usually mean giving it up the next.
BOUNCE YOURSELF LEAN
James R. White, a researcher in rehabilitation at the University of California at San Diego, designed an interesting study in the long-term effectiveness of weight-loss programs using exercise. He put some people on rebounders. Others rode bicycles; some ran on a treadmill. The control group did nothing except diet. All who exercised lost a significant amount of weight and showed a definite increase in the level of their fitness. But in the follow-up study designed to test long-term effectiveness of regular exercise, only 5 percent of the cyclists and 31 percent of the runners were still exercising, while a sound 58 percent of the bouncers were still bouncing. It helped keep off the pounds they’d shed. The explanation bouncers gave for continuing to exercise was simple. First, it was easy. Second, it was great fun.
REBOUNDING FOR REHAB
A number of sports medicine specialists report that using a bouncer regularly is a great way of exercising when your body has sustained some kind of injury, such as a twisted knee or Achilles tendonitis. It provides any sports enthusiast a chance to maintain his fitness while helping his injury heal. It also helps you avoid the familiar depression that sets in when you cannot exercise. Indeed, many exercise physiologists insist that, because of all the benefits rebounding brings the body—right down to a cellular level—it is a significant and powerful tool in encouraging healing, both of minor injuries and of degenerative conditions including arthritis.
At Elks Hospital, Idaho, Dr Kenneth Smith, former head of the Department of Rehabilitation, reports success in using rebounders when rehabilitating patients with orthopaedic or neuromuscular conditions. In a large study involving 2,300 patients in California, where rebounding was used as the major form of physiotherapy, researchers reported excellent results. Bouncing strengthened muscles, eliminated and prevented pain in the lower back and elsewhere, and was helpful in treating both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis. Bottom line: Manipulating gravity is not just fun. It’s great for healing and ideal for helping you feel wonderfully alive.