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Jump For Joy!
Bounce Your Way to Better Health

By Don Bennett, DAS

Don't you just love the spontaneous joy exhibited by little kids! They skip, they scamper, and they jump. Do you think it's because they understand the value of vigorous movement? Or is it because it's fun?

Yes, it's enjoyable, but movement is also necessary. Why? Because you have two circulatory systems, but only one pump. Your heart circulates your blood continuously, delivering nutrients, oxygen, and hydration to your cells. But what about your cell's waste products? Unlike your blood, your waste system's fluid (lymph fluid) does not need to be moving every second, so it doesn't need a "continuous duty" pump. But it does need to circulate. And that's your job! As you move around, the lymph fluid is moved from the cells, to the lymph nodes, and on to the "dump". But if you don't move enough - if you are less active than children - your metabolic garbage container isn't being emptied on a regular basis. And that can spell trouble (lingering waste products are a major contributor to degenerative disease).

Although running is good for the lymphatic system, over time it can take its toll on your joints (and on your heart believe it or not). So, on balance, running is not the best way to move your lymph fluid around. Skipping, "spirited walking", and rebounding are your best choices. Time to take a cue from kids - jump!

The trampoline of choice as a child was the bed, but today there's a device that makes jumping a joy. It's called a rebounder; basically a mini-trampoline. About 40 inches in diameter, and about eight inches high, this low-tech device can do wonders for your well-being. The better rebounders feel good, and are enjoyable to use. The cheaper, store-bought ones feel stiff, and if you don't like the way it feels, you're not likely to use it on a regular basis, and it then runs the risk of becoming a dust collector - the more dust on it, the less it's helping your health.

Jumping on a mini-trampoline is known as "rebounding", and is enjoyed by young and old alike. And its benefits are numerous. Your cells get the exercise they so desperately need, with no harsh shock to your ankles, knees, spine, or to the ligaments that support your internal organs. You can bounce gently, which moves your lymph fluid around, but doesn't make you huff and puff, enabling you to talk on the phone or carry on a conversation. Or you can get your heart pump'n if that's your preference, but you'll do so using the physics of low force. Translation: You're not likely to sustain injury as can occur with high-force activities like running.

In addition to its ability to work out your cardio-pulmonary system, rebounding tones your legs, thighs, abdomen, and hips, increases your agility, circulates more oxygen to your tissues, reduces fatigue, stress, and menstrual discomfort, tones up the glandular system, stimulates metabolism, aids digestion, and improves your sense of balance. Not bad for an exercise that's actually enjoyable... and the enjoyment doesn't come from endorphins (pain-killers produced by the body in response to injury).

And here's some fascinating rebounding info: At the top of each bounce, you are momentarily weightless, and at the bottom of each bounce, you are actually resisting the Earth's pull more than you usually do. This alternating weightlessness and multiplied gravity produces a pumping action which pulls out waste products from the cells, and forces into them oxygen and nutrients from the bloodstream. And it's so gentle when compared to running's forceful pounding that it's the exercise of choice for astronauts returning from the weightless environment of outer space.

But again, rebounding's big plus is its ability to keep your waste management system in top form. There are three ways to move lymph fluid away from your tissues and back into the main pulmonary circulation, and rebounding addresses all three. There's muscular contraction, gravitational pressure, and internal "massage" to the valves of the lymph ducts. Rebounding's a cellular exercise with little chance of injury, that's fun, makes you feel good, and promotes good health... Who could ask anything more from an exercise!

James White, Ph.D., Director of Research and Rehabilitation at the University of California at San Diego explains how jumping improves equilibrium, "Rebounding helps people learn to shift their weight properly, and to be aware of body position and balance... My students tell me it's so much fun that they often exercise on the rebounders for their own enjoyment."

As mentioned earlier, all rebounders are not created equal. The secret to a comfortable rebounder are the springs and the mat. The springs should be wider in the middle than at the ends; in-other-words not the same diameter from end to end. And the mat should give no stretch during the downward landing while providing a resilient rebound. The mats of low-cost rebounders are unyielding, and feel jarring when compared to a rebounder made with a Permatron® mat. Although the rebounder is a low-tech device, Permatron® is unquestionably a high-tech material.
If you're someone with less than optimal balance, a rebounder will likely do wonders for you. The good news is that the high-quality rebounders have, as an option, a stabilizer bar that attaches to the rebounder, allowing you to hold on while you bounce.

If you have a place outdoors where you can set up your rebounder, do so; it's wonderful! And rebound in your bare feet! Your feet have balance sensors; many small muscles responsible for balance. But when we stuff our tootsies into those containers we call shoes, we immobilize those muscles and make no use of those sensors. Our bodies are frugal things, and will not upkeep anything that isn't used. So, over time, our sense of balance diminishes, and we attribute this to old age. Nonsense! Rebounding in your bare feet will help restore lost motor control and balance, and will help insure that you maintain good balance throughout your entire life.

And let's not forget about happiness! Our ability to be happy is affected in large part by the health of our cells. In general, the healthier we are physically, the healthier we can be emotionally. This is the Body-Mind Connection. Its counterpart, the Mind-Body Connection gets most of the press, but the two are equally important. So to increase your "happiness potential", keep your cell's trash cans from over-flowing. Spirited walking and rebounding are great ways to do this.

If you want to learn more about rebounding, visit health101.org and navigate to the rebounder page. There you will find links to many informative resources.

Do consider rebounding as part of an overall health-promoting lifestyle. A few minutes a day will go a long way towards ridding your body of accumulated cellular waste. And just like it's a wise thing to consider investments for your financial future, cellular exercise from rebounding is a great investment for your future health.


Additional Reading: Lymphatic Exercise for Vibrant Health

If you want to learn more about rebounding, click here. You will find links to many informative resources.

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