What piece of exercise equipment sells for under $20, fits into a briefcase, can be used by the whole family, and improves cardiovascular fitness while toning muscle at the same time? And using it for just 15–20 minutes will burn off the calories from a candy bar? The answer: a jump rope.
Jumping rope is a great calorie-burner. You’d have to run an eight-minute mile to work off more calories than you’d burn jumping rope.
For novices, a beaded rope is recommended because it holds its shape and is easier to control than a lightweight cloth or vinyl rope.
- Adjust the rope by holding the handles and stepping on the rope.
- Shorten the rope so the handles reach your armpits.
- Wear properly fitted athletic shoes, preferably cross-training shoes.
- You’ll need a four-by-six-foot area, and about 10 inches of space above your head. The exercise surface is very important. Do not attempt to jump on carpet, grass, concrete, or asphalt. While carpet reduces impact, the downside is it grabs your shoes and can twist your ankle or knee. Use a wood floor, piece of plywood, or an impact mat made for exercise.
How To Jump
If you haven’t jumped rope since third grade, it can be humbling. It demands (and builds) coordination. Initially, you should practice foot and arm movements separately.
- Hold both rope handles in one hand and swing the rope to develop a feel for the rhythm.
- Next, without using the rope, practice jumping.
- Finally, put the two together. You’ll probably do well to jump continuously for one minute.
- Alternate jumping with lower intensity exercise, such as marching, and you’ll be able to jump for longer periods. You’ll probably never want to jump for a solid 10 minutes. Rather, incorporate it into a varied exercise routine, such as one developed by Edward Jackowski, PhD, author of Hold It! You’re Exercising Wrong. He uses rope-jumping intervals, initially 50–200 repetitions, in a combined aerobic and strengthening program.
The highest intensity workout involves one jump each time the rope passes. Slowing the rope to adding an extra little jump reduces the intensity. Pay attention to your target heart-rate zone. That’s where you’re exercising with enough intensity to benefit from the exercise and not so vigorously as to endanger your health.
Check with your doctor if you have any doubts about your ability to withstand the impact and high aerobic intensity of rope-jumping. As mentioned, shoes and jumping surface are important. As with all exercise, warming up, stretching and cooling down are important. How you jump will determine the impact on your body.
“The real key is to make sure you jump properly,” says Roger Crozier. He teaches physical education at Fox Run Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas, and coaches a competitive jump-rope team. “Stay high on the toes. When you walk or run, you impact your heel. With rope jumping you stay high on your toes and use your body’s natural shock absorbers.” Crozier says rope-jumping is lower impact than jogging or running if done properly. If not, it’s considerably more impact.
“Beginners usually jump higher than necessary. With practice, you shouldn’t come more than one inch off the floor.”