Rebound exercise (or “Rebounding”) is a type of elastically leveraged low-impact exercise usually performed on a device known as a rebounder—sometimes called a “mini-trampoline”—which is directly descended from regular sports or athletic trampolines. Some of the basic movements and actions of rebound exercise include bouncing in place (sometimes also called “jumping” or the Basic Bounce ), jumping jacks, twists, side-to-side motions, running in place, dance movements, and a wide variety of other movements, patterned or un-patterned, with or without the use of hand-weights or other accessories. A wide variety of physical and other benefits are claimed for rebound exercise, which experienced a tremendous upsurge of interest in the mid-1980s. A rebound exercise program can focus on aerobics, strength, or just simple easy non-jarring movement, depending on the needs of the person bouncing. Typically round, rebounders are much smaller (at about 3 to 4 feet in total diameter) than regular trampolines, and they are not designed for stunts. Other equipment for one or two feet, such as Kangoo Jumps or BOSU balls, can provide a type of rebound exercise experience, and regular, full-size, sports or athletic trampolines can also be used to perform the various movements, routines, programs, and styles that characterize rebound exercise. Rebounders are predominantly used solo in personal homes, but are also found in some health clubs, and physical rehabilitation centers.
The modern trampoline was created by George Nissen in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1936. In 1938 the first “small trampoline” was created by Ed Russell, who left his ideas and prototype with Victor Green, who patented the “small trampoline” in 1975. Within a year, five American companies were manufacturing small trampolines, which were soon called rebounders. In part because of business promotional efforts, and in part because of a number of scientific studies that seemed to support the value of rebounding (see “Scientific Studies” below), from 1981 to 1984 rebound exercise became very popular in the United States, with reportedly over one million units selling a year. The fad faded by the end of 1984, supposedly because poor quality foreign-made units had flooded the U.S. market. Today, there appears to be an upsurge of interest in rebound exercise, in part due to increasing quality of equipment and in part due to its use in physical therapy and the fight against obesity generally. Rebound exercise is especially popular in holistic health circles, as rebounding is said to combat a number of ailments (see “Claimed Benefits” below) given its ability to generally and gently stimulate the immune system and provide aerobic exercise without jarring the physical structures of the body as the elastic element of the rebounder is said to take up to 85% of the shock that the body would otherwise experience.
Rebounders are often called “mini-trampolines,” but this is a misnomer. Trampolines are generally much larger, and are designed to perform stunts such as flips and seat drops, while it is dangerous to perform stunts on rebounders. While there are “double mini-trampolines” used in sports and even Olympic competition, these are designed specifically to perform stunts and are used in a substantially different manner than is the typical rebounder. Most but not all rebounders are round, and consist of the following parts: The largest two differences between rebounders, other than manufacturing materials, relate to the source of elasticity. As this mechanism is responsible for carrying the weight of the user, their longevity and responsiveness directly affect the rebounding experience. The two main mechanisms currently in production are bungee cords and piano wire.