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Jump yourself fit

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Jumping rope isn’t just for kids- it can also be a great addition to your fitness program, helping you to build balance, speed, agility and coordination while you lose weight. Jumping rope, even just for ten minutes, gives you an intense cardio workout. It burns calories quickly and, if you do it regularly, it can have a huge impact on your fitness levels. Many top athletes use skipping as a part of their regular fitness regime. Boxers in particular use it to increase their stamina and strength. So grab a rope and get fit the fun way!

Here are some reasons why jumping rope makes a great workout…

It’s cheap. You’ve probably got a jump rope lying around somewhere already. If not, you can buy one for less than $10, which is probably the cheapest piece of exercise equipment you’ll ever buy! Even the very best quality jump ropes sell for around $25, so this is an exercise you can invest in without breaking the bank.

You can do it anywhere. Inside, outside, it doesn’t matter. The best surfaces for jumping rope are hardwood or rubberized flooring, or very thin carpet, but really any hard surface will do. If you’ve got a big living room, you could even do it in front of the TV.

It burns calories quickly. Jumping rope burns heaps of calories in a short amount of time. Just 10 minutes of jumping rope burns about the same number of calories as if you went jogging for half an hour. So if you’re short on time, this is a great workout that you can fit into your day in small, manageable chunks.

It’s fun. Remember all those jump rope rhymes? Get your friends or family to join in and make a game of it. Even just set challenges for yourself- see how many jumps you can do in a minute, or how many in a row without messing up. You probably even remember a few fancy tricks- just be careful not to get hurt!

Jumping right

But before you start jumping away like a kid again, it’s important to make sure you’ve got your technique right to make sure you don’t hurt yourself. Firstly, it’s vital that you have the right length rope for your height. Too long or too short and you might trip up- which could actually hurt you pretty badly.

The following lengths are a good guide:

Height             Rope length

Under 5’             7’

5’ to 5’ 5”            8’

5’ 6” to 6’            9’

Over 6’            10’

Start with these measurements and adjust until you find a length that is most comfortable for you. Basically, when you step in the centre of the rope, the handles should just reach your armpits.

To make sure you are jumping correctly, check that you are holding the handles with a firm grip and your elbows close to your sides. Keep your torso relaxed and your gaze straight ahead. This will help maintain your balance. When turning the rope, make small circles with your wrists. Make sure you’re not jumping too high- you should aim for a light ankle-knee motion, with your feet just clearing the rope. The rope should lightly skim the ground.

Building up your fitness

It might take a while to get into the swing of jumping rope. It’s can be more tiring than it seems! The trick is to keep doing it in short bursts regularly to build up your endurance. Warm up before you start by jogging in place for five minutes. Then jump at your own pace, or try some interval training and alternate between bursts of jumping as fast as you can, and slower ‘resting’ jumps. Even just five minutes of jumping a couple of times a week can be a start. Just get into the practice, and then work on increasing your speed or duration. 

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