My family recently watched a "Rocky" marathon, and I was reminded of what a great cardio workout jumping rope can be. Sometimes people get discouraged, thinking that they need a gym membership or lots of fancy equipment to lose weight, but in reality, you can work out and get in better shape lots of different ways. I recently wrote another article about losing weight by shooting free throws.
You use so many different muscles shooting a basketball at a hoop and chasing it down, and the worse your free throws, the more cardiovascular exercise you get. A jump rope workout is just as easy to try, and the rope costs even less than a basketball.
Get the right rope
A jump rope doesn't have to be expensive at all, but it does need to fit you correctly. For most people, a jump rope should be long enough that the handles come up to your armpits when you stand on the center of the rope with one foot. Many ropes are adjustable, or you can buy one already sized to fit you if you can find one. The standard rope on the shelf at a sporting goods store is around 9 feet long. That is too long for a woman of average height, and too short for a man over 6 feet tall. A few inches can make all the difference in a jump rope workout.
Jump ropes can be extremely light or a little heavier, made of plastic, cloth or leather, and even beaded like the jump ropes you might remember from elementary school. The style you choose is largely a personal preference, although some jump ropes will last longer than others.
Take care of your feet
You will want to wear a good pair of shock-absorbing shoes to jump rope. A pair of cross trainers or walking shoes may work best. You should also jump rope on a forgiving surface. If you are not at the gym, a wooden floor or the bare ground are better than a concrete floor. If you have problems with your feet or knees, or any history of heart problems, you should also check with your doctor before starting a jump rope routine.
Start with really low expectations
Few people can go from the couch to a jump rope workout without wearing out quickly. Jumping rope is a high intensity cardio workout equivalent to sprinting, and you should not expect to be able to do it very long if you are not in great shape. Start with just 30 seconds. Really, just 30 seconds. Do a skipping jump instead of a two-foot hop if it is easier to manage. Rest for 30 seconds and then jump again. Repeat until you have done about a 10 minute workout, and then stop. You don't want to overdo it on the first day.
Build up your time and intensity
As you get more physically fit, you can increase the time that you jump, both overall and between rests. As you continue to jump rope, you will work out your legs and your core, and the high intensity cardio will help burn off fat and increase your stamina. You can also build the intensity of your workout by doing two-foot hops instead of skips, rotating the rope faster, and working in other moves using your jump rope, giving other muscle groups an added workout as you go.
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Tavia worked as a naturalist and recreation specialist at an Oklahoma lake during her college years. She enjoys using what she learned as an outdoor educator in her work with children today.