A perfect, all-round exercise : Skip your way to success | Sunday Observer

A perfect, all-round exercise : Skip your way to success

Last week, I was listening to an audio presentation by the late Dr. Paul Dudley White, world acclaimed Physician and heart Specialist. He said, “I treat my pair of legs as my second heart. That is why, whenever a patient asks me what type of exercise is suitable, I recommend anything to do with legs - walking, striding, jogging, even cross-country running. All of them are effective.”

He made that comment 50 years ago, however, Dr. White’s advice remains valid even today. Housewives, executives and schoolchildren are now rediscovering another way to use their legs. For many, it is more fun. It can be done indoors or out. The only equipment required is a nine-foot length of cotton, hemp or nylon - a jump rope.

Rope skipping approaches being a perfect all-round exercise. It is for people of all ages and physical conditions. Consider some of its advantages.

Physical benefits of skipping

Skipping will help improve cardio-respiratory (heart and lungs) fitness (or stamina), flexibility, coordination, balance, rhythm and symmetry. It is both, aerobic and anaerobic. It can be a high-impact exercise, and is therefore, an extremely efficient way of building bones and toning thighs, hips, calves and gluteus maximus (bottom).

Mental benefits of skipping

A high level of coordination is needed to be able to skip to a reasonable level. To skip for a continuous period without stopping requires cross-lateral ambidexterity and a very high level of fitness. It has been proven that skipping burns twice as many calories as walking.

Comparison with jogging or running

Unlike running or jogging, where the arms move sympathetically to the rest of your body and have no need to be clenched, extended or retracted, skipping is approximately 40% upper body and 60% lower body activity. By introducing your arms, you are engaging your biceps, triceps, deltoids, chest and almost all the muscles in the upper body, as well as, the obvious muscle groups associated with the legs. The benefit is low impact on knees, hips and ankles and a more noticeable impact on lungs, heart and muscles.

Skipping burns calories

Skipping burns calories/energy. It develops a more efficient energy system. Professional footballers, boxers, swimmers, tennis players, martial artists, rugby players and many more, enjoy the benefits of skipping as part of their daily workout routine to improve stamina, footwork skills muscle tone and to lose weight.

Lots of benefits

Nobody knows where rope skipping first developed. People of all ages enjoyed it centuries ago in the Far East and Europe.

But, now, sportsmen and women are our only really dedicated skippers. Long ago, we jumped for fun; sportsmen today, know it helped their endurance.

A study conducted at the University of Illinois - USA in 1957 was perhaps the first to demonstrate the considerable tangible benefits. Participants in the study were schoolboys, aged 9 to 11, whose only exercise was vigorous rope skipping.

They developed more efficient hearts and improved endurance. Their chests deepened. Fat was reduced and muscular strength improved. Posture also improved. More agile, the boys could jump about four inches higher than before entering the program.

But what would skipping do for adults?

At Temple University, Philadelphia, a group of men, aged 19 to 43, went through a program, jumping rope ten minutes daily, five days a week, for two months.

Average improvement in cardiovascular efficiency (a person’s capacity to take up and utilize oxygen for the production of work) was 23 percent; some bettered themselves by 31 percent. Their hearts beat slower; they could handle harder, heavier workloads; and many developed a stronger hand grip.

At Arizona State University USA, researchers took 92 unfit students, put half in a 30-minutes-a- day jogging program, half in a 10-minutes-a-day rope-skipping program. When tested, the two groups shared almost identical improvement in cardiovascular efficiency. Baker’s conclusion, reported in Research Quarterly, was that, for the purpose in view 10 minutes with the rope is equal to 30 on the road.

Natural exercise

What’s the magic behind rope skipping? We seem to be born hoppers and jumpers, especially, when under tension. Watch cheer-leaders during a game; they bounce like yo-yos.

Watch winning players after a crucial touchdown or basket; they leap about like kangaroos, or staid matrons when they hit the jackpot on a TV money show.

Physiologists know that even small jumps alternately contract and relax the muscles of calf and thigh, improving muscle tone, aiding the return of blood to the heart and improving peripheral circulation.

Lifetime experience

Skipping can start early and last a lifetime - either as a complete training regimen or as a supplement to other workouts.

I had a friend who was the CEO of a blue-chip company. When I met him a few weeks ago, he told me that he had been skipping rope for some 22 years.

He added,” “I do my skipping in the living room and leave my rope on the couch. In this way, the sight of it encourages me to do a couple of extra rounds now and then. When I have company, the rope is a conversation piece, and frequently, the whole place starts jumping!”

Start jumping

So, what should you do? You can buy a skip rope ready-made with handles, at any sporting-goods store. Warm up by jumping in place (on both feet together) 50 to 100 times, without the rope. Next, skip the rope 50 times, at whatever speed you like. You will find it easier at first to lift both feet free, off the ground at the same time.

On your first day, that’s plenty. On the second to the fifth day, gradually add ten skips per day. By week’s end (5 days would do) you’ll be doing 90 skips without stopping.

Skip and rest, skip and rest, until the day you can do 500 consecutive skips in 5 minutes. Continuing at this level, will maintain your fitness for many years.

One warning: if you are over 40, consult your physician before embarking on a program. 

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