It’s a well known fact that exercise is an important way of reducing stress and ensuring optimal health. Aerobic exercise, like running, releases endorphins, gets your blood pumping, and can lift your mood considerably. I’ve recommended it to my clients for years.
But, I have a confession to make. Up until recently that was more of a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of thing. The truth is, I don’t really like exercising. It’s boring and since just trying to fit it into my schedule stressed me out, I figured avoiding it made it a wash.
It probably goes back to my gym class days. I was never good at anything. The teacher called me a “cream puff.” The girl jocks were even less complimentary. Sorry, but being assaulted in dodge ball was not my idea of fun. It actually scared me. And climbing a rope…seriously? When might I ever need that skill in life?
Luckily, I wasn’t alone. I had Annette…thank God. We learned quickly to walk in front of the slow balls thrown by the other cream puffs so we’d be out and safe and could spend the rest of the class chatting. We barely passed gym but did get high marks on communication and ingenuity.
Neither of our parents cared much about gym and didn’t encourage exercise. We endured it. That’s all. So, happening into a gym as an adult brings back many awkward memories. I’ve tried. I really have. I even got enthusiastic a few times when I joined. But then the questions start… What to do? How do the machines work? Who can help me? How many reps? And worst of all questions, what do I wear so I don’t look like a dork? I mean, I’ve seen the women there…they’re the girl jocks all grown up and waiting to pounce (I can only assume). So, overwhelmed and disappointed, this cream puff would leave deflated every time.
But recently that all changed. After a less than impressive bone density test, I figured I’d better start taking exercise seriously. My mother is 92 and bedridden due to osteoporosis which has led to two broken hips, a broken arm, and worst of all, five collapsed vertebrae in her back. If it weren’t for that, she would be in great health – no special diets, no medications (other than the pain meds for her back) and no dementia. Clearly, I need to start taking this seriously.
So, I did my research and discovered the best kept secret – not only in the exercise world but a secret that even enhances emotional health (which is right in my wheelhouse). The secret activity that cream puffs the world over could not only handle but even actually enjoy. No complicated equipment to figure out. No special skills required. No trainer, no special outfits, and no special shoes (I do it barefoot!). Best of all, it only takes 10 minutes a day in the privacy of your own home.
I know…it sounds too good to be true, but I’m not making it up. It’s called rebounding… or in layman’s terms, jumping on a mini trampoline (which I think sounds more fun).
Believe it or not, just 10 minutes a day actually exercises every major muscle group in your body, increases bone density and detoxifies your lymphatic system. In fact, it’s the exercise of choice for NASA astronauts returning to Earth who have lost bone density due to lack of gravity.
So, why am I telling you about this? Because bouncing on a rebounder has so many physiological benefits, but the psychological benefits abound as well (pardon the pun). Rebounding is one of the best exercises to boost our emotional and mental health. Our blood gets pumping, endorphins increase, and the lymphatic system starts draining toxins out of our bodies, which not only boosts our physical immunity, but helps to clear our brains – literally.
There are some great products on the market at different price points. Originally, I bought a cheap $50 model to see if I would even like doing it. I did! But I did find the bounce very hard and was concerned I could injure myself more easily. But having proven to myself that I liked it and actually would stick with it I started to do some research to find a better model. What I found is the Bellicon is the hands down favorite – the Rolls Royce of the trampoline world. Constructed in Germany using bungees rather than metal springs, the bounce is softer and it is virtually noiseless, which enables me to bounce even while the hubby is sleeping in the next room. Bellicon also offers 3 sizes, customized bungee strengths, and some great colors to boot. It was an investment that has paid off for me already. I opted for the mid size 44 inch and am glad I did. It’s still portable so I can take it outside in the nice weather if I choose but it gives me a little more room to work out. And I set it up in front of my recumbent bike and treadmill – just to keep them company. For stress relief there’s nothing like it.
There are other models out there that I’ve heard are also good although I can’t personally vouch for them. My friend has a Cellerciser which is made with springs that she likes very much. But there is not much of a difference in price so for my money I would rather have the bungees. Another bungee model is made by Jumpsport. It is half the price and gets decent reviews, although to get more customized tension on the bungees means having to upgrade to their more expensive models.
The bottom line is this: exercise truly is an excellent way to manage stress. For those who suffer anxiety and OCD, rebounding can be a huge help to reduce those jitters. For those who struggle with depression, rebounding can boost your endorphins and your mood while detoxifying your system. Even on days that I’m tired, when I push myself to jump for just 10 minutes my mood and energy level significantly improves. It’s just plain fun!
Rebounding, of course, isn’t for everyone and I would strongly encourage you to check with your doctor before trying it. If you’re worried about balance or falling off, all of the brands mentioned above offer an optional balance bar. Studies do show that those with balance problems can benefit by rebounding so don’t rule it out too quickly if that’s your concern. Do the research yourself to see the many benefits of rebounding. If your experience is anything like mine, it will put a definite bounce in your step!
*Photo Credit: Bellicon USA
Allison is also the Founder and President of www.CatholicTherapists.com, a nationwide network of dedicated Catholic therapists.
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