I have a hard time finding an exercise routine I actually enjoy.
I love physical activity — walking, biking, hiking, dancing, etc. But a regular “exercise program” feels like work to me.
This summer I agreed to join my 21-year-old daughter in a workout program called “Insanity.” The name itself should tell you everything. I really did give it my best shot, especially since it was something the two of us could do together.
But if there’s anything that makes you aware of your age and physical limitations, it’s trying to keep pace with a 20-something and a hard-body instructor screaming at you like a drill sergeant. Fortunately, my knees began to swell up, so I had a legitimate excuse for ending the insanity.
One of my favorite health and fitness books is Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond. (There’s also a copy for men called Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond.) The book is filled with great information on living the best lifestyle now to extend your life and maintain great health.
The linchpin of the author’s health and “fountain of youth” philosophy is his unwavering belief in the life-altering effects of exercise — and his non-negotiable rule to exercise six days a week for the rest of your life.
Says the author Chris Crowley, exercise tells your body “to get stronger, more limber, functionally younger, in the only language your body understands. Because that is exactly what it does. And it works. It is the only thing that works.”
We all know this, but he explains it in a way that has really hit home and has motivated me to maintain some kind of regular exercise routine. My problem is finding a routine, or combination of routines, that I actually enjoy and that will work with my life, the weather, and my fitness level.
When I was teaching The Habit Coursewith my partners Leo Babauta and Katie Tallo, one of our students wanted to develop the habit of jumping on a mini-trampoline. She mentioned how fun it was, but at the time it didn’t strike me as a very serious exercise pursuit.
However, I did a bit of research on jumping on a mini-tramp, better-known as rebounding. And boy was I blown away by the myriad of health benefits of doing this fun jumping-around-thing we did as kids. So I went out and bought myself a mini rebounder trampoline and have discovered my go-to cardio exercise for the year.
I have a fairly inexpensive rebounder I purchased before I knew anything about rebounding. It’s just a basic rebounder that runs around $40: Mini Rebounder Trampoline. I’ve since learned you should invest in a decent rebounder if you are serious about the exercise. The Mini Trampoline Cellerciser Rebounder and Needak Rebounder Platinum Edition Half Fold Soft Bounce are two of the top-rated rebounders but are definitely more expensive.
I’d suggest you start with an inexpensive rebounder (unless you are really overweight or know you want to start with the best) to see if you like rebounding. Bottom line, you want to make sure the rebounder you purchase is strong enough to support your weight so you don’t injure yourself.
Rebounding can involve more than just jumping up and down on a trampoline. I’ll outline some rebounding exercises in a minute. But first let me share some of the really amazing benefits of rebounding . . .
Health Benefits of Rebounding
It appears that no piece of exercise equipment has such a wide range of health benefits as the rebounder. Rebounding provides a combination of health and fitness benefits that no other exercise can provide. And to me, it is one of the most fun, convenient, and low impact exercises I’ve ever attempted. I’m hooked on it.
Increases lymphatic flow
More than any other exercise, rebounding greatly increases lymphatic circulation. Lymphatic fluid is the most important fluid to immune function in the body. Two thirds of your white blood cells that eat bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and cancer cells are found in the lymphatic fluid.
Increases detoxification and cleansing of the body
More than any other exercise, rebounding greatly increases lymphatic circulation and detoxification. Lymphatic fluid clears the system of toxins and waste products. The more we can increase lymphatic flow the more we can detoxify the organs, glands and tissues. Rebounding’s alternating weightlessness and double gravity produce a pumping action that pulls out waste products from the cells and forces into them oxygen and nutrition from the bloodstream.
Provides low-impact, safe cardiovascular exercise
Cardiovascular exercise is any exercise that increases the heart rate, like running, jogging, walking, etc. However, many of these exercises greatly stress the feet, ankles, knees, hips, back and discs. Jogging or running on a rebounder decreases shock and stress to the joints by 95% while still providing a cardiovascular workout as beneficial as running.
Strengthens the cells of the body
Rebounding helps keep all the cells in the organs, glands and tissues healthy and living long. When cells are weak and rupture easily, it weakens your immune system and shows up as symptoms, conditions and diseases. If cells are strong, you will have more health, energy and vitality. All cells in the body become stronger in response to the increased G-force during rebounding, and this cellular exercise results in the self-propelled immune cells being up to five times more active.
“…for similar levels of heart rate and oxygen consumption, the magnitude of the biomechanical stimuli is greater with jumping on a rebounder 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
More benefits of rebounding
- 20 minutes of rebounding = 1 hour of running for cardiovascular workout
- Accelerates metabolism to burn calories for weight control
- Improves digestion and elimination of cellular waste
- Reduces body fat; firms legs, thighs, abdomen, arms, and hips; increases agility; and improves sense of balance
- Has a natural analgesic effect on the body, relieving pain in the neck, back, and head by increasing circulation and oxygen flow
- Lowers blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol naturally by increasing oxygenation and dilating the blood vessels for smoother and easier blood flow
- A year-round exercise that can be done inside or outside and is easily portable for those that travel
- Improves circulatory disorders by increasing cellular respiration
- Promotes regular elimination and relieves constipation by increasing metabolism
- Increases endorphin output, thereby promoting the relaxation response and stabilizing the nervous system
- Promotes physical and mental efficiency (and stability) by increasing oxygen levels and decreasing toxicity
- More effective for fitness and weight loss than cycling, running or jogging
- 12 minutes of rebounding burns about 10 more calories than 12 minutes of jogging
Hopefully you’re convinced that rebounding is one power-packed exercise. But you may wonder what the heck you do on a rebounder once you begin. When I first started, I just jumped around like a kid on a regular trampoline. That was fun but soon got boring. You certainly can’t do any flips or high leaps on the thing.
Below are some of the exercises I like to do on the rebounder. I generally do 20 minutes in the morning and 20 in the evening while watching TV. It’s best to exercise barefoot (or with socks) on the rebounder as this strengthens the muscles in your feet.
To warm up I do a fast walk and some gentle bouncing. I mix this with some elbow to knee touches. I do this for about 5 minutes.
After the warm-up, I begin to jog at an increasing pace leveling off to a comfortable but steady jog. Then when commercials come on, I pick up the pace to a sprint or fast jog to really raise my heart rate. Sometimes I will include jumping jacks or the elbow to knee move but at double time.
High Knees/High Jumping
You can also increase the intensity of the workout by jogging but bringing your knees up really high as you run. You can also do high jumps by jumping up as high as possible with both feet off the ground and arms outstretched for balance.
Arm Lifts and Weights
If you want an upper body workout while you are rebounding, or just to increase your heart rate, try lifting your arms over your head in repetitions or use small hand weights to do bicep or tricep curls.
Be sure you stretch your calves, thighs, and hamstrings after your workout to prevent injury.
If you are looking for a low-impact workout or to supplement your current routine, I hope you will give rebounding a try. With the laundry list of health and fitness benefits it offers, you can go wrong with it!
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