Health & Fitness from Rope

I’m a little bubble car, number 38, whizzing round the corner, JUST – IN – TIME – TO – SLAM – ON – THE – BRAKE! Sorry about that, I was just reminiscing about skipping game we used to play as kids. It’s all computer games and joy sticks these days, but just a generation ago, you couldn’t keep the kids indoors if you tried. We were always running around, or running away, burning off the calories in aerobic games and mischief.

Why is it that many men look at rope skipping as effeminate, or a fluffy form of exercise as my father always used to put it? I mean, the great boxers of the world use skipping as part of their rigorous exercise regime, and I don’t think anyone would dare to call them effeminate. I guess the problem is because we don’t see men skipping in public places, only girls, and kids at that.

Well, there are many health benefits to be had from skipping. In fact, rope skipping is a brilliant cardiovascular exercise and that’s according to the U.S. Olympic Committee Sports Medicine Council. You’re probably wondering what can be so great about skipping right? Ok, let’s outline the benefits of this underrated form of exercise.

I’ll start by comparing it with other, more common exercises. Take running or jogging for example. Each foot absorbs up to 5 times the body weight from the force of the impact as the foot hits the ground. Over time, this impact can cause reversible and irreversible damage to the feet, ankles, knees, and hips. We’re kind of used to seeing athletes suffering such injuries. The only difference between them and those of us that jog for fitness, is that their extreme fitness regimes speed up the process due to over exertion.

Now with rope skipping, the shock of hitting the ground is absorbed by both feet. This is much better for the exerciser as it allows the calf muscles to control and absorb the impact, so you can see that it puts much less strain on the bones and muscles that jogging or running.

Aerobic exercise, that it any kind of exercise that increases the need for oxygen, has skipping included among its recommend activities. To get any benefit out of skipping, or any other form or aerobic exercise, it must be performed between 3-5 times a week for about 20 minutes per session. You don’t need to do all twenty minutes at once though, as 4 sets of 5 minutes or whatever you’re comfortable with will suffice. Mind you, you must exert yourself as you need to get that heart racing and show a bit of sweat to show for you efforts.

Additionally, aerobic exercise is great for improving heart and lung health, not to mention shedding a few pounds in the process. I’ve outlined below a well known formula for working out your training range:

220 – (your age) = Max HR (in beats per minute)

Max HR x (.55 to .85) = 55% to 85% of Max HR

For example:

220 – 35 (years old) = 185 (beats per minute)

185 x .55 = 101.75 (beats per minute)

185 x .85 = 157.25 (beats per minute)

Now round off these numbers.

So, 102 to 157 beats per minute is the training range of the 35 year old in this example.

Here are a few more useful tips on the benefits of rope skipping:
By jumping through a rope at about 130 revolutions per minute is about the equivalent of running at 6 miles per hour or cycling 12 miles per hour. Just 10 minutes of rope skipping is equal to a one-mile run.

How to choose the right skipping rope?

Hold the rope and stand with your feet on the middle of it. If the length of the rope is correct, then the handles should just about reach your armpits. Also, make sure the handles are thick and feel comfortable when you grip them.

When skipping, you should look for a cushioned surface to skip on. A good sized carpet remnant is perfect. Try to avoid hard surfaces like concrete whenever possible, as hard surfaces can increase the impact on joints.

Make sure you have well-cushioned athletic shoes just as you would for walking or running.

As with all new exercise make sure you start slowly and gradually increase session time over the course of a few weeks. It’s important to allow your leg muscles get accustomed to the exercise.