For most of us, our first contact with skipping rope is on a playground, and it is usually just a game, mostly enjoyed by girls…and usually referred to as “jump rope.”
However, for many professional athletes, the physical benefits of skipping rope make it an attractive part of their fitness regimen.
Few exercise methods can compete with the grown-up version of the playground version of “jump rope”, when it comes to improving cardiovascular efficiency. We used to use the word, “endurance” for certain types of exercise, and rope skipping is certainly one of those types, as just a few minutes of jump rope can be as taxing as running or other aerobic or cardiovascular activities.
It is often estimated that running can burn, on average, about 600 calories per hour. Skipping rope is estimated to burn about 700. Of course, not too many people are going to skip rope for an hour, but you get the point. One estimate is that rope skipping for 10 minutes is the approximate equivalent of running an eight-minute mile.
Skipping rope is considered to be less destructive to knees than running as more of the shock is absorbed beginning with the ball of the foot rather than the blunt impact upon the heel experienced in running. It is for this reason that, not only do many professional athletes use it as a conditioning method, but it is often practised by senior exercisers as well.
As with running, and other cardiovascular exercises, it should be a part of a larger exercise program which includes flexibility exercises and strength training.
When an individual has a broad-based exercise program which includes such activities, including rope skipping and other forms of exercise, they can anticipate a broad range of health benefits as well. Regular exercise can help strengthen the cardiovascular system, regulate mood swings, improve the immune system, and help protect against a wide range of degenerative conditions which tend to become progressively common as we age.
While many other forms of exercise can require special training and/or expensive equipment, the physical benefits of skipping rope can begin to be acquired using almost any old piece of cord and a few minute’s patience. While there are ropes specifically designed for skipping available in WalMart, Sears, or almost any other department store that sells exercise equipment, a good old-fashioned length of clothesline cord will do for starters.
As with many other exercises, however, good form is important for safety and efficiency, and getting an expert to…well… show you the ropes, either in person or on an exercise DVD, will probably pay off in ways more valuable than money.
So, what’s the bottom line?
Well, the physical benefits of skipping rope are many, and it is an activity which you will probably find to be a valuable part of your exercise program.