Some people love cardio while others loathe it, and some just feel "meh" about it. Regardless of your feelings, you know that your hearts, lungs, blood vessels, brain, bone density, and sleep are improved by incorporating cardio into your regular workout routine. That being said, January is a good time to add something besides the usual elliptical, bike, treadmill, and rower into the mix. We suggest the humble jump rope.
Yes, this deceptively simple rope with handles has the power to develop stamina, agility, speed, and coordination. In addition, jumping rope strengthens the ankles and works the calves more than other modes of cardio. But it is not just the calves and ankles that get a workout. Jumping rope is a full-body exercise that recruits muscles in the arms, shoulders, core, and upper legs. Because more muscles are recruited, the calorie burn is higher, making it a very efficient workout. Jumping rope is actually gentler on the knees than running when done correctly. To jump effectively and efficiently, your body must be in alignment: head, neck, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles form a straight line. Get out of this nicely stacked column, and jumping will become much more difficult. As a result of this, your posture improves. Research has shown that jumping at a pace of 120 jumps per minute for 10 consecutive minutes is the equivalent of jogging for 30 minutes, swimming for 720 yards, playing two sets of singles in tennis, or playing 18 holes of golf. Pretty impressive for a simple piece of equipment.
Are you excited now? Can't wait to begin skipping? Here's a friendly warning: jumping rope is harder than it appears, especially if you haven't picked one up since elementary school. It does take some skill, so the first few times may trip you up (literally and figuratively),but keep at it. Don't be discouraged. Like any skill, the more you practice, the better your mastery. Start slowly, and gradually increase your time. Jumping rope is fun, so don't get frustrated. Laugh at yourself and enjoy the experience.