When I was a little girl in Pittsburgh, jumping rope was one of my favorite things to do outside, aside from riding my bicycle. If I wasn’t allowed to leave the yard, I could jump rope. If nobody was allowed to come outside and play, I could jump rope. It was easy and it was cheap.
During recess, there were several girls who had perfected the art of “double dutch” jumping. This involved 2 girls, each holding the end of a jump rope in each hand, and at least 1 (sometimes 2) girls jumping. The girls holding the ropes would make large, alternating circles with the ropes and the girls in the middle would have to jump very quickly, alternating each leg as they did so. It was fascinating and I spent many days of recess just watching them, wishing I was coordinated enough to join them.
But jumping rope isn’t just for little girls with pig tails. Jumping rope is a wonderful exercise and is again gaining popularity. Boxers will jump rope for cardio exercise, as well as to increase footwork speed and agility in their arms. People with knee issues enjoy the benefits of jumping rope without having to worry about further injury. Wrestlers and tennis players find that jumping rope increases stamina and builds upper body strength, especially in the shoulders. I think it’s great because it’s easy to learn and can be done by both young and old.
To start, you just need a few simple things: a jump rope that is appropriate for your height, a pair of comfortable shoes, and a space large enough to accommodate your movement. That’s it!
Make sure you hold the grips firmly, but not too tightly. Keep your head up (don’t look down) so that you stay balanced. And then, just make small circles with your wrists. The jump rope should just graze the surface that you’re jumping on.
When I was teaching, our amazing P.E. instructor taught the Kindergarten and First Grade kids the fine art of jumping. During this unit, P.E. quickly became the highlight of the day for these kids (aside from lunch and recess). She had a HUGE display of jump ropes hanging in the gym and the kids could not wait to get their hands on one. There were even contests to see who could jump the fastest and the longest and the kids were so excited to hear their names read over the school’s P.A. system. The kids were becoming more and more physically fit every day without even realizing it.
Our P.E. instructor even invited a professional jump rope “artist” to come and perform for the kids. He showed them all kinds of different ways to enjoy the jump rope as he dazzled them with different tricks, including jumping in the dark gym with neon lights emanating from the jump ropes he used. Teachers and students alike were incredibly impressed!
Jumping rope is a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily life and a wonderful way to do something fun with your kids. You can do it in the yard, on the driveway or sidewalk, even in the garage if it’s raining. On cardio days when I’m pressed for time, I will jump 10 minutes in the morning, another 10 mid-day and 10 minutes in the evening. I feel invigorated every time I jump.
So, go on. Grab your shoes and your jump rope and have some fun. In no time at all, you’ll wanna jump, jump!!