Skip Yourself Fit

by Melanie Claire Betts

The health benefits obtain from a small amount of cardiovascular exercise each week is well established. Moderate to low intensity activities done as little as 30 minutes a day can bring benefits. Such activities include walking, gardening, housework, and stair climbing. More vigorous aerobic exercise such as running, swimming, cycling and skipping done for a minimum of 30 minutes at least 3 times a week are much more beneficial for improving the fitness of the heart and lungs. Studies show this type of exercise will help reduce the risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Exercise also reduces the risk of non-insulin dependant diabetes, colon cancer, depression and anxiety. As well as help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

So why should you chose skipping over any other form of aerobic exercise? Skipping will, like other exercise improve your heart rate and blood pressure, promote fat loss, improve flexibility, co-ordination and balance and improve muscle tone particularly in the thighs, buttocks, calves. As skipping is a high impact exercise it is also particularly beneficial in maintain / improving bone density which in tern can help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in latter life. As it improves balance and co-ordination in can help reduce the risk of falls.

It has also been stated that 10 minutes of skipping has the same health benefits as a 45-minute hard run. An interesting thought for those of us with hectic lifestyles who use the excuse that we can’t find time to exercise! Research carried out by Reebok also found that skipping burns more calories than jogging and football. It is portable and convenient as it can be done anywhere and be performed at all levels. Beginners can mix shorter bouts of skipping with longer periods of lower-impact/intensity exercise such as marching in place, step-ups etc or strengthening exercises such as sit-ups, press-ups etc.

However skipping may not be suitable for everyone. As it is a high-impact activity, avoid it if you have joint problems; established osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis or advance osteoarthritis. If you already have heart disease or a family history of heart disease as with all exercise you should check with your GP before starting any new exercise regime. The same applies for any established health problems.

You can reach the risk of problems from injury related to exercise by taking basic precautions and advice.

  • Don’t try too much too soon. Start at a work: rest ratio of at least 1:3 and build up slowly.
  • Wear appropriate shoes. Cross-trainers or aerobic shoes are best these provide appropriate stability and cushioning under the forefoot. Runners are not suitable.
  • Choose well-lit area. Avoid hard concrete surfaces. Favour a springy wooden floor, carpeted surface or place a thin exercise mat down first (make sure this won’t slip).
  • Watch your posture. Bend your knees and ankles and keep your torso straight when jumping. Keep your arms by you sides turning the rope from the wrists and forearms.
  • Warm-up and cool down. Before skipping do 5 minutes of gentle cardiovascular exercise, walking, marching etc. Then gently stretch all the major muscle groups you’ll be using. Remember to cool-down i.e. bring your heart rate down gently at the end of a session. Stretch again following your skipping session.