Don’t skip this workout

It’s one of the first physical activities we master as a child, the simple act of jumping rope. But what started with your double dutch tournament has fitness implications that last well beyond the schoolyard.

“Jumping rope is an extremely effective exercise that can help improve your fitness level considerably,” said Ethan Baum, a certified personal trainer from Northport. “Its many benefits include improving your speed, agility, power, endurance, balance and coordination, as well as scorching calories and fat.”

Your first move is picking out the right rope. “All rope lengths are measured from handle tip to handle tip,” Baum said. Here’s how to find the right length: Stand on the center of the cord with both feet. The handle tips should reach your armpits. When you jump over the rope, the rope should just brush the floor beneath your feet. If the cord doesn’t touch the floor, the rope is too short. If the cord hits the floor in front of your feet, the rope is too long.

When you begin jumping, slowly ease the activity into your workout regimen. Staying safe and injury-free is always paramount. Wear properly cushioned cross-training shoes. Try jumping on a wooden floor or an impact mat, as concrete and asphalt can be too jarring and uneven surfaces like grass or carpet may lead to twisted ankles.

First incorporate the move into your routine as a five-minute warmup before your workout. “As stamina improves, increase the duration of your jump rope workout, building up to 20 minutes. Throughout the workout, practice intervals, jumping at an easy pace for one minute followed by a sprint pace for one minute,” Baum said.

Your Stance
Knees should be slightly bent with your weight on the balls of your feet. Keep your body in proper alignment: Torso upright, eyes focused straight ahead.

The Jump
Keep the jumping motion short and just high enough to clear the rope; about an inch. There is no need to jump too high. With elbows close to the body, make small, circular motions with your wrists and forearms.

The Landing
Land softly on the balls of your feet to reduce impact on your lower body. But keep moving, your heels shouldn’t touch the floor.

TIP: For more variation, try jumping on one foot, alternating feet or criss-crossing the ropes.

To contact Ethan Baum, please visit him on Facebook.

Final note: The advice presented above is not meant for anyone with contraindicated health problems.

Please consult a medical or fitness professional.

No one is sure where and when the first person got the bright idea to jump rope—guesses range from ancient China to 1600 A.D. in Egypt—it’s believed that early Dutch settlers brought the idea to America (e.g. “Double Dutch”) where the game became a workout.

Illustrations by Pepper