Effective indoor exercise
Look hard enough and you’ll probably find your old jump rope in the back of a closet. If you’re like me and dislike the treadmill, this indoor activity offers many benefits including coordination, agility, muscular strengthening, cardiovascular endurance and more importantly, it helps you stay on the balls of your feet, reducing the risk of sciatic injuries.
Long practiced by boxers, jumping rope can add a fun, new dimension to your training, and during hot summer months, you can do it inside at any time of the day. Although you’ll feel a bit uncoordinated when you first clean the cobwebs off the rope, it’ll come back to you in no time. When doing regular weight workouts at the gym, jump rope in between sets. Jumping rope is a good warm up and an easy cool down, and adds variety to your workout.
Make sure your rope is properly sized. A standard jump rope is 9 feet long and will fit most athletes less than 6 feet tall. You can cut the cord and reattach it to the handle to fit your size. To properly size the rope, hold the handles and stand on the middle. Pull your arms up; your hands should come up to your pectoral muscles, or your armpits. Handles are usually 6 inches long and shaped so that they fit your hand comfortably and allow for a soft grip. Beaded ropes are best for beginners, or you can choose a vinyl, leather or nylon rope. The swivel ball-bearing system, although a little pricy, reduces tangling. Try them out at the store to find what works best for you.
I like using a soft, flat exercise mat or thin carpeting to reduce the hard pounding on the legs. Avoid hard floors or cement, grass and soft carpet, and make sure you have at least 10 to 12 inches of clearance above your head. Wear your walking or running shoes for support and cushioning. Take it easy on your first few workouts and expect some soreness in your feet and ankles. Build a base with basic jump routines, adding intervals of 30 seconds to one minute with rest in between. More intense workouts can go from 15 minutes to an hour depending on your speed and easy jumping rest time.
Other Tips and Benefits
• When traveling, pack jump rope for an easy workout when time or location keeps you from going for a run.
• Kids will want to join the fun.
• Play your favorite music as you jump to provide the rhythm and add to the enjoyment.
• Weighted ropes add to your workout and offer a good alternative as your progress in your training.