Get Fit by Jumping Rope

Updated: Dec. 03, 2010

Jumping rope is one of the best forms of aerobic exercise. It burns a lot of calories, is easy and

Jumping rope is one of the best forms of aerobic exercise. It burns a lot of calories, is easy and fun, and can be done at home without expensive equipment.

As a low-impact exercise, it won’t put your knees under stress and will loosen up your shoulders.

A regular jumping rope routine will help you develop your fitness coordination and agility. It targets your calves, thighs, and buttocks. It also makes an excellent addition to a cross-training program, in which a variety of aerobic and resistance activities are combined to create a complete cardiovascular workout to achieve all-around fitness.

Buying the Right Rope
The most important thing when buying a jump rope is to make sure that it is the right length. It is usually possible to adjust the length if the rope is too long. Stand with both feet in the center of the rope and pull up the ends. The handles should reach to your armpits.

Getting Started
Jumping Basics
Wearing loose, comfortable clothing and training shoes, begin to jump. Try to keep your shoulders relaxed and your upper arms close to your body. Use your wrists, not your whole arms, to turn the rope and try to keep them as low as possible. Keep your back straight and your stomach pulled in.

Rocking Skip
This is the easiest way to jump rope, and because you are half running rather than jumping, it does not require as much energy. At first, step each time with the same foot leading, then try alternating the leading foot. To avoid strain, keep your feet within 1 inch of the ground and your knees slightly bent to absorb the impact. Keep your head upright, in line with your spine.

As your fitness level increases, begin adding jumps with both feet together. To avoid boredom, you could try some variations, such as hopping on one foot, then the other. Again, make sure you do not jump too high. If you keep your feet in fairly close contact with the ground, you will minimize the chance of strain and will more likely keep jumping for a longer time.

Introducing a Regimen
If you have not jumped rope for some time, you may find a normal training level too hard. To build up stamina, jump initially for 2 minutes, or if this is too much, for 30 to 40 jumps, and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat twice. At each subsequent session, reduce every rest interval by 5 seconds, until you have eliminated all of them.

Starting a Regimen
You should now be ready to begin a formal training regimen, but this, too, should be introduced gradually. Start with a 3-minute jumping session once a week; then graduate to a 4-minute session twice a week; then a 5-minute session twice a week, building up to three 20-minute sessions a week.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest