No Spin Here! Learn to Jump Rope and Fitness Is at Your Feet

By Marilynn Preston

October 29, 2019 5 min read

You don't have to be a boxer or a 10-year-old to fall in love with jumping rope. Three people I know, who don't know each other, told me recently they're jumping rope for fitness and they can't get over how much they like it.

Yes! Dear Readers, learn by example. Jumping rope — as little as 10 minutes a day — gives you a great cardiovascular workout in a breathlessly brief amount of time. It's perfect for the busy executive, the even busier stay-at-home parent, and kids are natural-born rope jumpers, but sadly, it's not encouraged.

You've seen a jump rope, right? It weighs less that most breakfast bagels. You can take it anywhere and do it anytime. And except for the shoes — cross-trainers are recommended — you don't need special equipment or any clothing made of spandex.

"I take my rope to work with me," says my friend Electra, who discovered the joys of jumping about 15 pounds ago. "In between meetings or after a long time on the computer, I'll just get up, change my shoes and start jumping."

Electra had to exercise all her patience to learn. She jumped too high, kept looking down instead of straight ahead, and it took a while to get the hang of taking off and landing gently on the balls of her feet.

"I'm a natural-born klutz," Electra confides, "so for the first two weeks, I practiced in the bathroom with the door closed."

Once she got the swing of it, she started jumping in front of her family — going beyond the Basic Bounce into the Alternate Foot Bounce, the Side-Straddle, the Half-Twister and the Skier's Jump.

And now her husband's jumping, too, and they're both feeling stronger, lighter, calmer. And Electra is convinced her rope jumping routine is the reason she doesn't have back pain anymore.

I'm not making any promises, but as your most personal trainer, I urge you to give it a spin:

FANTASTIC BENEFITS. Rope jumping is one of the quickest and best ways to build strength, agility, quickness and balance. Research shows that 5 minutes a day will improve your overall physical fitness, and when you build up to 10 minutes a day of nonstop jumping (at 120 revolutions-per-minute), it's equal to 30 minutes of jogging, two sets of tennis or 720 yards of swimming.

Besides that, rope jumping benefits and stimulates both sides of your brain, strengthens your arms and shoulders and improves your coordination. It reduces your risk of foot and ankle injures, burns more calories than jogging and improves bone density. I'll stop now, but the list goes on. I hope you'll jump to your own conclusion.

EASY TO RESEARCH. To determine the right length rope, step on the middle of the rope, holding the handles. They should reach your chest. For more tips about equipment, technique and variations on the basic bounce, one reliable online source is the Jump Rope Institute, featuring U.S. Olympian and rope jumping enthusiast Bobby Lee. He's got videos, he's got passion, and he's got a sweet way of teaching you to get over yourself when it comes to learning to jump.

"Relax!" he shouts to a newbie jumper in one of his instructional videos. "Don't jump that high! It's all in the wrist!"

FOCUS ON FORM. Don't sacrifice good technique for speed. Speed may or may not come, but bad form can hurt you forever. Here's more advice from the jump rope experts I lassoed:

— Hold handles with a grip that is firm but tension-free. Relax your shoulders and keep your elbows close to your sides.

— Take off and land gently on the balls of your feet, with a slight bend in the knee.

— Turn the rope by making small circles with your wrists.

— Don't hunch. Keep your torso relaxed, head up, back straight and look straight ahead to keep balanced.

— Jump low, just high enough to clear the rope. That minimizes the impact on your knees and ankles.

— The rope should slightly touch the ground or floor as you jump.

So that's it for today's shameless attempt to get you and your kids — especially your kids! — to start jumping rope. I hope I didn't skip anything.

ENERGY EXPRESS-O! AFRAID TO TRY?

"Do one thing every day that scares you." — Eleanor Roosevelt

Marilynn Preston is the author of "Energy Express," America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new Amazon best-seller, "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being," is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com.

Photo credit: 12019 at Pixabay

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