Jumping Rope: Just Skip It

Take a fitness workout tip from the pros: one of the world's best exercise devices, the jump rope, costs less than $15, fits in your briefcase and is easy enough for a child to use. Jumping rope has long been considered "kid stuff" — but that's changing. Professional athletes in a variety of sports, particularly tennis and basketball, are jumping rope as part of their fitness workouts — for the same reason boxers have "skipped it" for years.

An unparalleled all-around workout, rope jumping strengthens the heart, muscles and bones, promotes leanness and improves agility, coordination, timing, rhythm and explosive power on both sides of the body.

Jumping Rope for 15 Minutes Burns 200 Calories

Jumping rope has become an integral part of many kinds of fitness classes, including cardio-kickboxing classes and boot camp workouts. Fifteen minutes of jumping rope burns about 200 calories, with some variation depending on how fast you go and how much you weigh. And despite concerns that jumping rope is hard on the joints, it's easier on the knees and hips than running, since you land on the balls of your feet so the calves and shins absorb and control the impact.

Choosing Your Jump Rope

While you can get a decent workout with a length of clothesline, a good jump rope won't cost much. Many experts advise fitness jumpers to use a beaded rope, which typically sells for less than $20. These ropes are made of cloth or nylon and covered by plastic "beads" that give it a satisfying weight and sound as it hits the ground. Competitive speed jumpers often use ropes that are wire-thin, while those doing tricks — such as double-dutch jumping — use thicker cloth ropes. Although jumping rope is child's play, even active people unaccustomed to repeated jumping may find it difficult at first. But with proper instruction and practice, anyone can jump rope, say experts.

Rope Jumping Tips:

  • Be sure your rope is the right length. When you step in the center, the handles should just reach your armpits.
  • Wear a good pair of aerobic or cross-training shoes.
  • Jump to music that has 120 to 135 beats per minute.
  • Avoid concrete or hard tiles and jump on wooden floors, rubber tiles or low-nap carpeting.
  • Keep shoulders relaxed and elbows in close to your body.
  • Don't jump too high — unless you're doing tricks. And turn the rope with your wrists, not your arms.
  • Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of light activity, then stretch gently before jumping.
  • If you've been sedentary and you're a man over 40 or a woman over 50, check with your doctor before beginning any vigorous activity.
  • Start by alternating brief periods of jumping with resting moves, such as turning the rope alongside your body without jumping. Over time, do fewer resting moves and more jumping. Your goal is to jump continuously for at least 15 minutes.

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