Rebounders first saw an upsurge in popularity in the mid 1980s, helped in no small part by a widely quoted (and sometimes misquoted!) study from NASA indicating that trampolining could be a better, more efficient way to boost fitness, bone strength, and muscle growth than treadmill running.
Since then, the benefits of introducing a mini-trampoline into your personal fitness routine have been widely touted – better cardio fitness, effective weight loss, an injury free boost to circulation, lower cholesterol and improvements in mood being just some of the reported pros.
But can regular rebounding make you need the toilet more often? Rebounding is broadly understood to have a range of benefits for the digestive system and general function of the body. Its particularly beneficial for those suffering with chronic constipation and other related digestive issues.
What are the actual digestive benefits and how does it help? What are the effects of mini-trampolining on gut health and are there any unwanted side effects?
Today, we’re going to look in a bit more detail at how it can affect and aid digestion, as well as other toilet-related topics!
Rebounding is frequently held up as being a great exercise for those suffering from chronic constipation or digestive issues. Individuals who have discovered personal relief from using a mini-trampoline as well as sports-related professionals who recommend it to their clients often point towards ways in which exercising on a rebounder can help encourage and promote healthy digestive function, keeping everything flowing smoothly through the body.
Does Rebounding Improve Digestion?
Rebounding does improve digestion because when jumping up and down on the trampoline surface, muscles throughout the body are forced to contract and relax repeatedly, including internal muscles that aid with digestion.
If your bowels need some healthy encouragement to get them moving food along in a healthy and efficient way, then the contraction and relaxation caused by rebounding can help with this.
Exercising on the rebounder also helps improve blood flow throughout the body, boosting circulation overall and getting the heart and lungs pumping. When muscles of the digestive tracts are properly supplied with blood and oxygen, they function more efficiently, just like any other muscle of the body.
Improvements in general circulation can also lead to a digestive system which flows more smoothly, as the muscles it relies upon are kept in the best possible state to do the job they need to do.
Does Rebounding Help Gut Health?
Peristalsis is the term given to the contractions that take place in muscles of the bowel system that help to push food in one direction through the body. Rebounding, with its accompanying contraction and relaxation of muscles, as well as its boosts to the body’s general circulation, can help promote healthy and efficient peristalsis.
A digestive system that contracts and works efficiently is a healthy digestive system. It means that food does not get ‘stuck’, slowing down the digestive process and inhibiting the body’s ability to rid itself of toxins or unhealthy byproducts.
Gut health can be hindered by food matter being backed up. Once the body has drawn the nutrients and goodness that it needs from food, it’s time to dispose of the waste product, and if this waste product is regularly kept in contact with healthy bowel tissue for too long, this isn’t good for long term gut health.
Indeed, poor digestive function has been linked to a range of diseases, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and certain cancers of the colon.
Does Rebounding Reduce Bloating?
Bloating can be caused by a number of factors and can be experienced in various ways. As such, it can be difficult to say with any certainty whether rebounding will be beneficial for the specific type of bloating you may be encountering.
However, plenty of individuals speak of how using a rebounder regularly has worked wonders for their bloating, whether this is bloating linked to Pre-Menstrual Symptoms, digestive issues, or other unidentified difficulties which appear to find symptomatic relief through trampolining.
Rebounding can help boost circulation within the lymphatic system, responsible for carrying fat around the body, boosting immunity, and filtering toxins. If the lymphatic system is not functioning properly, this can result in certain forms of swelling and bloating.
Rebounding can help the lymphatic system’s filters work smoothly which can in turn help with the correct balance of fluids within the body itself.
Water retention can be another cause of bloating, with various underlying causes of its own. It can involve excessive water being retained in the circulatory system or within tissues and cavities due to circulatory issues.
Some may find it can cause swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, or legs. As with other forms of swelling and inflammation, boosts to your general circulation can help relieve and treat symptoms, and rebounding has been seen to be an effective way of improving circulation overall, helping to keep circulatory systems maintain their healthy, functional rhythms.
Does Rebounding Cause Gas?
Gas of various forms is often a healthy and natural byproduct of digestion. As food passes through our bodies and is gradually broken down by the digestive tracts, various gases will be released, including carbon dioxide and methane. As we know from experience, this gas usually has to come out somehow!
It may sometimes feel as if exercises such as rebounding, skipping, or anything that involves hopping up and down are often ‘causing’ gas, as they may prompt burps or other forms of flatulence!
However, the reality is that this is probably due to the dislodging of pre-existing gas pockets within the body, rather than the creation of new gas that then has to be instantly expelled.
It may be that by ‘juggling around’ the food that’s in the process of being digested in the body you are in some way speeding up the process of gas release, in the same way that by shaking a fizzy drink you can cause gas to be expelled at a far quicker rate.
However, this can’t strictly speaking be seen as a ‘cause’ of gas, and it’s probably not accurate to say that rebounding causes gas more than any other form of mobile, aerobic exercise.
It’s also important to note that, generally speaking, exercise stimulates the sympathetic rather than parasympathetic nervous system. Digestion is at its most active when the parasympathetic nervous system, sometimes known as the ‘rest and digest’ system, is engaged.
Digestion tends to be restricted when the sympathetic nervous system is in action.
In other words, when we’re exercising, our usual digestive functions tend to slow down during that period, even though they may function more efficiently afterwards and receive benefits overall.
This means your body is unlikely to be breaking down lots of food and subsequently creating intestinal gas during a rebounding session itself. So you don’t need to worry about this before your next rebounder class!
The advice on rebounding after eating is pretty much the same as the advice around eating before any form of exercise. Anyone who has scoffed a large pizza and then tried to run it off immediately afterwards will know the discomfort this can cause and, if you haven’t, we don’t recommend trying it.
Generally speaking, try to avoid eating large or heavy meals in the hours preceding any form of moderate or intense exercise, rebounding included. Lighter meals or small, energy boosting snacks may be more appropriate.
Otherwise you run the risk of making yourself feel sick, having stomach cramps, or generally feeling sluggish and weighed down. The repetitive up-and-down motion of the trampoline may also lead you to feel a bit nauseous if you have a freshly ingested chilli con carne rattling around inside you.
Common sense is best applied when it comes to this – stick to water, fruit, light snacks, or energy bars before working out on the rebounder or any other form of equipment. Leave your sit down dinner until later in the day!
Can Rebounding Cause Diarrhoea?
We’ve seen the various ways that rebounding can help boost the digestive system, improve circulation throughout the body, and help promote the swift and healthy flow of food through the bowels, but can it make things a bit too efficient? Might you find the body expelling its food faster than is ideal?
When food passes through the digestive system too swiftly for water to be absorbed by the body properly, this can result in diarrhoea. Some people can experience this when exercising for long periods of time or when exercising intensively.
This is most commonly due to intestinal blood flow being slowed down during such periods, meaning the digestive system doesn’t necessarily get the attention it needs to do its job properly.
Remember we talked about the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system? When the sympathetic, sometimes known as the ‘flight and flight’ system, is activated, the body is focused on, you guessed it, making sure it can move, run, fight, fly, flee, lift weights, rebound, or do whatever it is you’re asking it to do at that time.
This means blood flow often increases in the muscles that we need to keep running or jumping. Functions that allow us to move smoothly, strongly, and efficiently through the world around us will be prioritised over other functions. Proper digestion can wait until we’re back in ‘rest and digest’.
Marathon runners, extreme athletes, or people working out for extensive periods of time are more likely to experience exercise-related diarrhoea than others. Rebounding, although certainly a fitness booster, does not put the body under quite the same strain as a 26 mile run!
Unless you’re rebounding for hours, it’s unlikely that the exercise is going to cause problematic diarrhoea every time you use it. In short, the general digestive benefits certainly outweigh the risks.