If the last time you jumped rope was in school, you're missing out on a simple, affordable and highly effective workout option – particularly when you have limited space. With or without a rope, here's how to make that jump to better health.
There's a reason parents are big fans of skipping ropes and trampolines – nothing tires a kid out quite like jumping! But adults can gain a lot by taking up this activity themselves.
Jumping rope is a great full-body workout, says Vitality biokineticist Mari Leach. "Maintaining good upright posture while you jump engages your core and back muscles; the swinging motion works the joints and connective tissues in your arms, hands, wrists and upper back; and the jump itself strengthens the muscles in your feet, calves, quads and glutes. The impact of landing will also improve your bone density."
"In addition, the pace of this activity gets your heart pumping in seconds – working your heart muscles and circulating blood throughout your body – but you can also pause and control this pace to suit your energy and fitness level. Plus, the combination of upper and lower body movements will improve your coordination."
Have a rope? Skip your way to a healthier heart
Skipping sessions are ideal ways to break up the physical monotony of sitting in front of a screen for most of your day, suggests Mari. "Jump rope workouts are usually just 10 to 20 minutes long, due to their high intensity, but you can break these up into shorter sessions throughout the day – for example, 5-minute sessions before each meal, or 2-minute 'tea breaks' every two hours when working from home."
If you have a skipping rope at home, you can try a variety of skipping exercises:
- The more you practice, the more efficient you’ll get, so challenge yourself by varying your speed and session duration.
- Mastered the single-under jump? Try more complex jump moves, like double-unders (two rope rotations per jump), the skier jump and the front crossover jump.
- Want to include the family? Take turns jumping in the middle as two people swing at the ends, or play 'helicopter' and try not to get caught!
Don't have a skipping rope? Try these alternatives
No problem! Use your imagination and 'shadow jump' – make all the motions of skipping without the actual rope. You can still try out the more challenging moves above, else, try these alternatives to get your heart rate up in a jiffy:
- Jumping Jacks
- High knee runs
- Bum kicks
- Squat jumps
- One-legged hops (first on the spot, then left to right, then forwards and backwards)
- Side-to-side two-legged broad jumps
- Mountain climbers
- Lunge jumps
- Side-to-side shuffle jumps while doing arm punches
As long as you have clearance around you and overhead, jumping is a handy movement that can be done anywhere, anytime, to strengthen your heart and work all your major muscle groups. "Breaking sessions up during the day will also limit the repetitive impact on your joints, allowing you to accomplish more overall, while limiting the likelihood of weariness, boredom and injury," Mari adds.
Need more Fitspiration?
Head over to the Vitality Home-Workout Channel – a daily schedule of FREE HIIT workouts, yoga, fitness challenges and more for the whole family. Choose from livestreamed workouts with JEFF to convenient pre-recorded sessions with amazing trainers from Virgin Active. PLUS, get valuable insights from our Vitality fitness experts. Find your workout schedule here.