The lymphatic system is one of the more incredible inventions in our bodies: Not only does it move lymph back into the bloodstream, but it filters out toxins and other foreign elements to support the immune system. Keeping the lymphatic system moving is imperative to maintaining our health (see Dr. Sadeghi’s essay on why the lymph nodes below the breasts are particularly important), and the best way to get the system going is through exercise—namely exercise with bounce. And nobody relies on getting up and off the (preferably sprung) floor than Tracy Anderson. While she has a wealth of dance cardio DVDs that can be done in your home (and as of this week, an easy-to-install Super G Cardio Fly sprung floor solution for at home), she’s also been a long-time proponent of rebounding, i.e., exercising on a mini-trampoline ($70). It’s a great option for those whose joints won’t support high-impact exercise or might be recovering from illness, but want to get some cardio with elevation (and all the lymphatic system benefits) into their workout. She made a video for us that you can do at home, or you can get her longer rebounding DVD here. (Meanwhile, rebounding is also great for strengthening the pelvic floor.)
A Q&A with Tracy Anderson
What’s the function of the lymphatic system, and how does rebounding help keep things moving?
The lymphatic system is quite complex, but on a basic level imagine that it is the main highway for blood flow. It starts with the heart: The heart pumps blood to the arteries, which then passes through the capillaries to the veins and then back to the heart. This is circulation. Every time the blood goes through a passage of this process of circulation, one percent of the volume of the fluid in the blood leaves the artery through the capillary and cannot get back into the vein again. In order for it to get back in, we have a one-way street—the lymphatic system—that picks up the fluid and brings it back to the heart. This traveling process is an adventure in and of itself. It’s critical that this fluid gets back to the heart and that it goes through this system.
If there aren’t any road blocks, the body can take what it considers foreign and filter it through the lymphatic system—the fluid will then get back to the heart through the structures of lymph nodes. This lymphatic system sits between two incredibly vital parts of our bodies: Our blood circulation and our immune system. This whole process starts when we are in contact with the outside world—it sees an invading organism and so begins the cellular process of receiving and dealing with those messages.
All exercise stimulates the lymphatic system, and so best way to help this important system road-block-free is to move a lot. The physical interrelationships between the hundreds of lymph nodes and the circulation of the system functioning without disturbances is key to fighting disease and maintaining a healthy performance weight. A person who doesn’t exercise regularly and effectively but doesn’t necessarily have “weight” to lose may still be significantly overweight in terms of toxic weight. The rebounder is a sure fire way for people who struggle with fatigue, back, knee, ankle, or feet issues to actually achieve a level of exercise that supports healthy circulation. One of the reasons my newly-released CardioFly floor is sprung with a certain level of rebound is to actually get the entire system involved. Many forms of exercise don’t reach the circulatory system in a way that helps this highway become a well-run super highway.
You’ve been a fan of rebounding for a long time—besides supporting the lymphatic system, why else is it so important?
I’ve always maintained an ever-evolving rebounding program within the Tracy Anderson Method. It is an important cardio option to add to your daily exercise routine. When you exercise in a way that requires lifting your body off of the ground, your legs, feet, and ankles bear most of that force. Many of us are not seasoned in how to let go of our centers and use our entire body like a gymnast to propel through the air. So our knees and ankles take an unsustainable amount of impact, usually resulting in injury. Daily exercise is meant to be life-giving, and shouldn’t come with any trade-offs. The rebounder allows your endurance levels and your muscles to strengthen through progressive improvement with equal force distribution. In addition, your brain has to participate more to guide your weight transfers with the bounce, which helps keep the communication strong between the brain and body. Increased blood flow and brain integration are two important ways to optimize your workout.
So it’s generally lower impact for people who struggle to incorporate cardio?
Rebounding is lower-impact on the joints while still giving you the benefits of having to mentally stay in the game. It requires balance and rhythm to master the coordination on the rebounder, and then you must perform the actual workout. It promotes weight loss, increases oxygen flow, increases bone mass, improves muscle and skin tone, and promotes a balanced workout.
What’s the ideal amount of time to rebound every week?
If you’re rebounding for your cardiovascular health, you need to do it for 30 minutes, 5-7 days per week. If you are able to do cardio that is of higher calorie burn, like my dance aerobics, then it is nice to interchange the two.
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