The workout of choice for athletes from boxers to bicyclists, jumping rope has long been known as a top cardio- and muscle-building exercise, an easy way to rev hearts and burn calories. It works your legs, arms, hands and feet like nobody’s business. And the equipment’s pretty cheap, too.
WHY YOU SHOULD START
Boosts heart health and endurance
Skipping rope pumps up your heart rate more quickly than other forms of cardio and keeps it elevated. It pushes up your maximum capacity for using oxygen as you exercise, extending your endurance for this or any other activity.
By forcing you to constantly be aware of where your feet are and your use of complex, simultaneous movements, jumping rope extends your motor skills and builds a stronger brain-body connection, good for preventing injuries and falls.
Builds bone density
Jumping has more of an impact on your bone structure than most other workouts, so it more quickly triggers your body to send more calcium and other resources to continue the “remodeling” process. Higher bone density protects against fractures and osteoporosis.
Tones and shapes muscles
Jumping is great at firming up your thighs, triceps, shoulders and especially your core.
BEFORE YOU START
- Beginners should start with a beaded rope; that little bit of extra weight will make it easier to control than a nylon rope. For optimum length, choose one that reaches up to your armpits when you stand on it.
- Use well-fitted athletic shoes, preferably cross-trainers, which provide stability, ankle and arch support, and sufficient cushioning in the midsole.
- Take the surface into account. Mats absorb a lot of the impact on your body and help protect your joints. Concrete lets you jump faster but is much harder on your joints. Wood floors, plywood, flat dirt or sand are other good choices.
- Start out slowly until you settle into your fitness and comfort level. If you have low endurance or joint injuries it would be a good idea to consider a less intense activity for getting in shape.