Friday, May 04, 2012

Jumping Rope Into Fitness

As 2011 was coming to an end, I found myself, among other things, considering ways I could maintain my fitness in a low cost, time effective way.  A few years back, I had purchased a jump rope, but could never really get started jumping because I was looking for the perfect surface to jump on.

Rather than continue the search, I thought back to my childhood, and jumping on sidewalks and gym floors and varied surfaces. And as a result, I started jumping rope in my gravel driveway as well as on a couple of different streets at Lake Floyd & in Parkersburg over the holidays last december.

The first day I jumped rope, I think I set a goal of jumping 500 times. I thought I was going to have a heart-attack after 100 jumps. (So I took a break after each set of 100 jumps, and made my way step-wise to 500.)

What I discovered along this journey is that jumping rope is definitely not as easy as it was growing up on 15th Street in Parkersburg and chasing each other & playing tag as we raced through double-dutch jumping.  It was not nearly as easy as it seemed when I participated in one of my first fundraising events a Jump Rope for Heart at Mckinley Elementrary school. And it was definitely not as easy as it was when I tried out for the jump rope team that later became known as the River City Skippers (I didn’t make the cut).

Instead, I found that jumping rope is a challenge and that a little bit goes a long way in burning calories and improving cardiovascular fitness. After a few minutes of jumping rope, my heart rate can get up to 170-180 bpm (similar to running sprints or running longer distances at near max effort). I can get about 120-130 jumps in per minute, and I can also carry a jump rope with me anywhere I travel.

In essence, I can pack an intense cardioworkout into my day with 5-10 minutes of jumping rope (in 1-2 minute intervals), and I can take the equipment with me anywhere. I think the idea came to me when I saw the rope, and I had seen a few of those infomercials advertising the latest in exercise equipment (and known of a few people who made purchases but failed to use them). I feel like any health or fitness plan needs to travel well, and should be able to happen at a relatively low cost.

So far, I have a little over five months of jumping and building a baseline with the rope. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to jump start cardio and fitness, I recommend a jump rope. Or even if you are looking for a way to vary already existing workouts or a way to take a simple workout on the road, jumping rope is a great form of exercise.

My one recommendation is to go slow. Unless you are incredibly fit already, you aren’t going to be able to jump rope in the same way you did as a child. You’ve put on weight, and your body is not accustomed to the impact. The cardio workout is intense, but it is also an impact workout, and as such I recommend entering in slowly and build a strong base. Of course, in saying this, I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy with a jump rope who is trying to maintain and improve my health. 

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