Jumping rope not just for playgrounds anymore

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer

“One banana, Two banana, Three banana, Four…” 

We all recall the rhyming chants we used to shout while jumping rope as children.  After rushing through our lunchbox meals at school, we dashed out to the playground for jump rope games during recess. I myself spent hours on this sort of activity, often trying to jump one hundred times in a row without missing.  Little did we know that as we were trying to set our own personal skipping records, our cardiovascular system was getting a real boost.

Today, as adults, the simple jump rope can still be a powerful tool in your bag of workout tricks. Easy to pack and requiring no instructions whatsoever, the jump rope can travel anywhere with you, providing easy access to a cardio workout.  A high-quality rope can usually be purchased for less than ten dollars at any sporting goods store.

The benefits of jump rope training extend far beyond a trip down childhood’s memory lane.  A session of rope- jumping can provide coordination, agility, and endurance.  According to Roger Crozier, a Physical Education teacher and competitive jump-rope team Coach in San Antonio, Texas, the real key is to make sure jumping form is correct.  Crozier reminds us, “When you walk or run, you impact your heel. With rope- jumping you stay high on your toes and use your body’s natural shock absorbers…Beginners usually jump higher than necessary. With practice, you shouldn’t come more than one inch off the floor.” 

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Another key benefit to jumping rope is that of building body spatial awareness.  Coordinating the efforts of the arms and feet requires a tremendous number of neurons to connect within the brain. As such, developing jump-roping skills can enable an athlete to transfer such gains across the board to just about any physical endeavor.

Before embarking on a jump-roping marathon, it is wise to ensure that the proper length of rope is being utilized. Hold a jump rope handle in each hand and let the rope dangle to the floor. Step on the rope and raise the handles up with your hands as high as they will go. Now, evaluate the length of the rope:  if the handles reach your shoulders, the rope is the perfect length for your body. A jump rope with handles that fall below your shoulders is too short, and will interfere with your precision while jumping. One that extends twelve inches or more above your shoulders may be too long and cause you to misstep while you are jumping.

According to the National Institutes of Health, jumping rope burns close to eight hundred calories per hour, which is more than any other popular exercise except perhaps running. The faster you jump, the more calories you will burn.  

Probably the greatest asset of a jump rope workout is its efficiency.  One can achieve a beneficial cardiovascular workout in about fifteen minutes’ time.  In addition, jumping rope is a lot of fun!  Putting on some music with a high-energy beat can turn this physical activity into a mini-party!  As you can see, there are virtually no more excuses for not having fun while toning your body.  So, grab a rope and start moving — you are just a hop, skip and jump away from better health!