Column 30 - The Rebounder

Original publication date: March 28, 1984

One of the most efficient, effective forms of exercise yet devised by man, producing high aerobic training and all-over strength, is the rebounder. At least that's what the rebound people say. We fell for the idea. Santa left us a rebounder for Christmas. Now we leave it virtually unbounced upon, at least for any serious exercise.

The rebounder is a mini-trampoline made of either a canvas or rubber-coated nylon mat about 36 inches across, which is supported by a round frame with springs. The rebounder sits about six inches off the floor, so even the heaviest person should get some bounce out of it.

The concept of the rebounder is that it provides a convenient (36 inches doesn't take up much space) aerobic substitute for jogging. Rather than dressing to go out for a jog, you can bounce on the rebounder while watching television, waiting for food to be cooked, watching for the rinse cycle while washing clothes, or thinking up ideas for a column. The rebounder is light and portable so can be used anywhere, even outside when the weather gets warmer.

Rebound people claim that rebounding is fun, safe, easy for anyone, and can burn up to 24 calories per minute or 1,440 calories per hour. It doesn't make much sense to me that something that safe and easy for anyone can be so demanding that it burns more calories per hour than tennis, squash, cycling, or a reasonably vigorous hour of cross-country skiing.

As I mentioned, our family fell for the idea of the rebounder as a form of exercise to get us through the winter months while indoors. My husband and I, both fit, felt the rebounder did not do what was claimed it should do. We found we cannot use the rebounder as an alternative to jogging because our heart rate level does not increase enough to be beneficial as an aerobic workout. We have to do a demanding high-knee running action for long durations to get the slightest benefit. However, for those who are just starting an exercise program, or just recuperating from an illness or injury, the rebounder does provide a mild aerobic workout. Especially for those with arthritis, the rebounder does help eliminate the strees associated with jogging or hopping on a hard surface for a length of time.

As for the calorie-burning value, Victor L. Katch, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan discovered that a 120-pound person burns about 4.4 calories per minute; a 150 pound person burns 6 calories per minute, a 180 pound person burns about 7.5 calories per minute on the rebounder. This range of 265-450 calories per hour varies greatly from the exaggerated figure the rebound people claim.

Our rebounder has been pushed aside for any aerobic benefits for our family, yet it has been used extensively by our girls aged three and four. They love to bounce (especially now that they can get both feet off the ground) for short periods throughout the day. It has been a godsend for the release of energy, especially on those cold and windy days when outside play was minimal.

For those just beginning an exercise program concerned only with mild aerobic benefits, the rebounder is still a good investment. It can provide rhythmic, non-stop exercise which aids in building endurance. It will stimulate circulation, work your leg muscles to a degree and help improve your balance. If, however, you are already toned and fit, the rebounder will be a waste of money.

Copyright 2021 K.L. McCluskey, all rights reserved.