Rebounding in the Fitness Spotlight
Originally appeared in Holistic Resource, January 2016.
The mini-trampoline workout known as rebounding is being lauded as the best high-intensity, low-impact form of aerobic exercise out there. Today’s fitness environment has a diverse clientele, which is great news for the industry, yet also presents challenges. Clients want an engaging, highly effective and efficient cardiovascular workout. The baby boomers, a large segment of the population with discretionary income for fitness memberships and personal training, are entering their senior years and require specialized approaches. Many individuals with physical limitations such as excessive weight or joint injuries know they need to “do something” but are struggling to find ways to safely exercise. Personal trainers, physical therapists, doctors and other fitness providers are advising more and more of their clients to try bouncing on a trampoline. At first, it seems like a silly suggestion…what is so great about jumping up and down?
Rebounding provides an incredible amount of benefits to the body and to the mind. First and foremost, bouncing on a trampoline provides cardiovascular benefits such as increased heart rate, improved circulation, and cellular oxygenation without the discomfort (and often times problematic) high-impact experienced on the bones and joints from running or jogging. The single most important scientific research study on rebounding was conducted in 1980 through NASA by A. Bhattacharya, E.P. McCutcheon, E.Shvartz, and J.E. Greenleaf; Biomechanical Research Division, NASA-Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, in cooperation with the Wenner-Gren Research laboratory, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. The study found that “for similar levels of heart rate and oxygen consumption, the magnitude of the bio mechanical stimuli is greater with jumping on a trampoline than with running”. Meaning, you get more bang for your fitness minute rebounding than you do on a treadmill. Studies showed that rebounding burns calories eleven times faster than walking, five times faster than swimming, and three times faster than running. Plus, with a rebounder, 80% of the shock is absorbed by the trampoline pad. You can protect your joints while burning lots of calories. However, rebounding is strenuous enough that it helps your musculoskeletal system build and improve bone mineral content. Each landing from a jump puts the bones under slight stress, making the exercise qualify as weight-bearing and bone-density building. Therefore rebounding can help reduce the risk of bone conditions such as brittle bone disease, fractures, and osteoporosis. This is great news for individuals who need to improve their cardiovascular fitness but for other reasons cannot put their body through the stress or difficulty of running, jogging, or jumping rope. Even for individuals who do enjoy running and have no problem “pounding the pavement” a rebounding workout is a smart way to burn lots of calories through cardiovascular activity while simultaneously protecting the lower body’s joints in between their regular running sessions.
Rebounding has also been proven to increase the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), the number of calories you'd burn if you stayed in bed all day. BMR decreases with age, which is why it gets harder and harder to stay slim and eat whatever you want as you get older. A regular routine of cardiovascular exercise elevates BMR, so your body processes nutrients more efficiently and you burn more calories as a matter of course. Additionally, agility, balance and coordination are improved because the participant has to bounce, balance, and maintain body position while anticipating the next action. For seniors and individuals who are very over-weight balance training is extremely important and trampolines are a wonderful tool to safely address this issue. Rebounding is highly effective in building muscle tone and strength due to the pressure differentials experienced throughout the workout. Bouncing is the only type of movement that applies weight to every cell in the body at the same time giving the body constant resistance which strengthens muscles, connective tissues, ligaments, bones, and tightens internal organs and skin cells. One of the most peculiar benefits to the body is the effect rebounding has on the digestive system. Bouncing stimulates the smooth muscles of the intestinal tract causing them to contract and release which improves digestion. You are actually helping your body move your dinner along your intestinal tract!
There are mental health benefits too. The improved circulation from the cardiovascular aspect means more clean oxygen is being pumped to the brain, making you feel alert, less fatigued and stressed. Endorphins, the positive, mood-enhancing natural chemicals in the brain are released helping combat depression and anxiety, promoting better sleep and improving mental performance. Another interesting benefit is the increased detoxification of the body’s lymph system. Similar to how the body’s circulation of blood and oxygen is improved, the circulation of lymph fluid is also increased. Lymph is a clear, colorless fluid containing the infection-fighting white blood cells that is transported throughout the body inside the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of organs and tissues including the spleen, tonsils, thymus, lymph nodes, and lymphatic vessels that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. Thus, increased lymph fluid circulation results in a boosted immune system.
There are all these amazing benefits to rebounding! You want to take a class, right? What can you expect? Rebounding classes are fun and have great variety. It’s simply a matter of inventive choreography, varied pace and good music. Classes incorporate postures from sports, ballet, hip-hop dance, and aerobics. The primary bounce is the basic bounce. To basic bounce stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and jump down like you are trying to push the trampoline pad to the ground. This forceful bouncing will engage the pelvic floor and lower abdominals. The idea is to bounce down to build strength—not to bounce up as high as you can. From basic bounce you can take off in a multitude of postures, for example, marching in place to warm up, cool down or transition between moves; jumping jacks; punching and kicking like you are boxing; running in place gently and then turning up the intensity with fast sprints; picking up the heels behind you into hamstring curls; holding the legs together and shifting side to side like you are skiing down a mountain; lifting the legs behind you into an arabesque, or laterally (to the side) into passé, or kicking the leg out in front into attitude position. To peak the heart rate you can jump as high as you can and land in a plie. A plie is a ballet pose where your legs are in a externally rotated, or “turned out”, position. Plie can be in first position, with the heels touching, or second position with the feet shoulder width apart. The fun is switching up all these different positions to keep the class challenging both physically and mentally. Classes will typically build a sequence of poses and after a short cool down interval will rev back up again at the beginning of the sequence so participants can learn the combination. Rebound classes can also incorporate light hand weights, tension bands and intervals with core exercises and leg and gluteal sculpting. The possibilities are endless.