The work-out industry is dominated by high-tech machines and gadgetry that can cost thousands of dollars. They gleam and beep and have input jacks for your iPod.
But the one piece of workout equipment that might be more efficient and effective than all of them is also the least expensive. It provides a full-body workout, it’s travel-ready and small enough to fit in your pocket. No iPod connection, though.
Think of it as “old-school” with the emphasis on “school.”
It’s a jump rope. If that makes you smirk and think of girls in plaid school uniforms, shift to the rope’s other common icon, that of the well-toned professional boxer working out with a rope. Regardless of which image you identify with the activity, I challenge you to rediscover the jump rope and try working out with one.
Consider what it can do for you.
- According to the Jump Rope Institute, 10 minutes of jumping rope at 120 rpm provides the same benefits as 30 minutes of jogging, two sets of tennis singles, 30 minutes of racquetball or handball, 720 yards of swimming or 18-holes of golf.
- The exercise uses all your muscles and joints and especially works the back, glutes, shoulders, abs, chest and arms.
- Athletes find jumping rope improves coordination, balance and timing.
- According to the Journal of Applied Physiology, jumping improves agility and running speed by helping to improve fast-twitch muscle contractions.
- In a comparison of 32 athletic activities listed at MayoClinic.com, jumping rope is tied for the top calorie-burning activity (exercise over a one-hour period). It also develops your cardiovascular system and decreases the risk of heart disease.
Make sure your jump rope “fits.” Step on the middle and lift the rope upward. Shorten the rope so that the handles reach your armpits.
There are many types of jump rope, but if you’re just getting started, I’d suggest a beaded rope. The weight and momentum help the rope move predictably and it holds its shape better than a lightweight fiber, leather or vinyl rope. It also makes a motivating whack as it skims the ground.
Jump on a lower impact surface such as a gym floor, tennis court or gym mat and concentrate on soft, less jarring landings. While jumping rope can place stress on joints, when done properly, it places less strain on the body than running.
Place weight on the balls of your feet. Keep your body straight with your elbows in close. Make small circles with your wrists to keep the rope moving. Keep eyes forward, not looking down at your feet. Don’t jump more than an inch or so off the surface.
Don’t double jump like you used to do in grade school. That’s too easy.
Try one-footed jumps, alternating between feet, just like running. But keep your feet forward to keep from tripping on the rope.
I’m not suggesting you drop all other athletic activity in favor of jumping rope. However, I do think using a rope can be a great way to add variety to your workout as well as a great warm-up technique. It’s also a lightweight, easily-packed piece of equipment that you should always consider bring along on business trips, vacations or other travels.
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