Jump into health: The skipping secret to better heart function

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heart-health(NaturalHealth365)  If you haven’t jumped rope in decades, you are not alone.  Jumping rope is unfairly stereotyped as a childish activity for kids.  And, yes, jumping rope does requires a certain degree of physical energy, coordination, and a playful spirit.  However, if you’ll just try to dust off that old jump rope from your basement, attic, or garage, you might be pleasantly surprised about the health rewards.

A new study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine highlights the specific benefits of jumping rope.  Aside from boosting coordination, jumping rope also gets the blood moving for improved heart health while simultaneously burning calories.

Start jumping rope today to improve your balance and heart health

The study linked above analyzed 24 youth soccer players.  The participants were divided into two groups, one dubbed the experimental group and another serving as the control group.  Those in the experimental group engaged in jump rope training at the start of their training sessions.

The control group participated in drills specifically designed for soccer players as a point of comparison.  Those who jumped rope displayed a 9% greater improvement in performance on the Harre Circuit Test used to gauge lower body balance and motor ability.

Jumping rope is an effective form of exercise for kids and adults

There is a common misconception that jumping rope, playing hopscotch, and enjoying other school-age exercises are activities strictly limited to kids.  Jumping rope is just as enjoyable and effective for adults as it is for school children.  Simply put, jumping rope is fantastic for heart health.  Jump while swinging the rope with rhythm and you’ll find this cardiovascular exercise elevates your heart rate, promoting blood flow and also complementing your current strength training routine.

Exercises that increase the heart rate simultaneously reduce the risk of heart disease.  This type of cardiovascular exercise is perfect for those depressing winter days when suffering cabin fever, as it can be done in a basement or living room outside of a traditional gym setting.  Jump rope for 10 minutes, and you’ll likely burn 100 calories, ultimately helping you lose weight while improving balance and coordination.

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Jumping rope even has the potential to enhance bone density.  Bone density dissipates throughout the aging process, creating the potential for a bone break resulting from a fall.  Jump rope in your adult years, and you’ll fortify your increasingly brittle bones as this activity is load-bearing.  The minor but meaningful impact that occurs when landing after jumping over a rope strengthens the bones.

Practical steps to begin jumping rope and a couple of caveats of note

Jumping rope may feel a bit challenging (at the beginning), but you will improve quickly – with a little effort.  Put on some up-tempo music, clear out your surroundings for ample space, and start jumping rope like you did as a kid.  If you’re looking for some variety, reverse the motion by transitioning from forward jumping to backward jumping.  Continue to jump rope, and you’ll progress to the point that you can swing the rope above your head and below your legs two times while jumping.

Jump rope experts can even hop over the rope on a single leg.  You can ramp up the difficulty even more by crisscrossing the rope with your hands or using a weighted rope for more of a challenging upper-body workout.  Another significantly helpful tip would be to use a “speed rope” to easily improve the revolutions per minute for a much more effective cardiovascular session.

Double-check your surroundings to ensure that you have ample space to the sides and above your head so you don’t hit someone or something with the rope.  Ideally, you should consider jumping rope on a soft mat such as those used for floor exercises, as the cushioning absorbs the impact upon landing.  The mat’s absorption minimizes the potentially harmful and painful vibrations sent throughout your lower body, including those sensitive knee joints with limited cartilage.  Plus, the mat will protect your floor – if you do this activity indoors.

Bottom line: enjoy trying something new and the health rewards!

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