Little over a year ago you wouldn't have known me, or rather I didn't know myself, because I was beginning to feel so stiff and sore that rather than being 45 in my brain I was 65 (my real age being somewhere in between). Winter is a difficult time to keep fit in Ireland, and in fact in many parts of the world, because of cold weather and darkness both of which give us what may seem at the time a reasonable excuse not to go out.
Before I started my journey to optimal health I gave in to those ideas not to move rather than appreciating how good movement felt. Physical fitness exercise is a habit, and we all know that good habits are easier to break than to build. My nephew told me years ago it isn't how well we exercise that counts it is how well we go back to it when we've stopped. In this second of a series of articles on what has worked in my journey back to optimal health I want to consider the fine art of rebounding. Rebounders, or small trampolines, provide enough buoyancy for even older joints to do cardiovascular exercises without stress to the joints. I teach water aerobics which I like a great deal because it doesn't wear on the joints, I like rebounding for some of the same reasons. As with most of what I write, this article makes use of the three steps of action research (discovery, measurable action, and reflection) which I find useful in discussing any growth producing process.
Several things come together for the reason that I appreciate rebounding. First, I sometimes suffered from achy legs. I discovered the burning, almost itchy, discomfort was due in large part to a lymphatic drainage problem. Lymph circulates just underneath our skin and is an internal cleansing system when it works properly. When it gets clogged, as it often does for people who fly a lot, it backs up causing pressure and pain. There two ways to take care of a lymphatic drainage problem, one is to have a overhaul by a person knows what they're doing and who, through using light massage, gets lymphatic drains running again. Rebounding is the other way.
Rebounding also adds to the alkaline reserve of the body. Since, as I discussed in a previous journey to optimal health article, keeping a proper alkaline balance in my body seems to be a key for weight loss and health, you can see how the two go together. But there are lots of other things it does:
- It strengthens the heart, and improves both circulation and lung capacity
- it definitely increases coordination
- it enhances digestion, elimination, curtails critique, minimizes the risk of colds
- after rebounding you sleep better, feel like you have more strength and vitality
Becoming comfortable on a rebounder comes in stages. I teach water aerobics so many of the movements that you see in the books are similar to what I am used to, and things I'm comfortable doing within the water. However being on land jumping up and down is a slightly different and I found that my center of gravity changed. Therefore the first thing to do is to jump lightly until you get comfortable moving on the rebounder - then progress to harder moves. Once comfortable, you can jump higher, cross your elbows to your opposite knees, do jumping jacks, etc.
The trick seems to be to keep it up for over 15 minutes to have sufficiently raised your heart rate and begun to lower the resistance to lymph movement throughout your body. For me, the answer was listening to Kelly Howell's Brain Sync technologies tapes. Listening to her guided meditations, I get a good dose of positive affirmations and at the same time easily making it past the 15 minute mark when it comes to rebounding.
I often say the body likes to work. It's hard to make our brains believe that though when we’re in the middle of winter doldrums, or feeling old. I found rebounding to be fun because it challenged my sense of balance. I found it challenging enough to catch my interest. Also, I used music and guided meditations to keep my interest going.
To be completely truthful, given the choice of riding my bike or rebounding, the bike always wins. However as I write this, it's below zero Celsius, the road is covered with ice, and the health club isn't open because their staff can't get in. Today is the day I break out the rebounder. I recommend it as a useful tool to have in your battery of tools to keep you healthy. They take up little room, some even fold, and can be easily stored. As I said when I started this article keeping a habit is harder than building one. If you have lost the habit of regular exercise rebounding is a gentle and interesting way to get back into it and if you have a good habit for regular exercise, rebounding is a great way to keep it going when other circumstances make exercise tough.