I embraced my first skipping rope not long after I could walk. Well, not quite but I was rather young when I began my obsession with skipping.
It was real rope then. Dad would cut a piece of rope he found around home to suit my height and double knot both ends for handles.
Given our lifestyles, and particularly now I am a retired single female, many of my hobbies such as writing, sewing, knitting/crochet, reading, pottery, involve sitting for extended periods.
Quite unlike the corporate office environment where I was once jumping up and down from my desk every few minutes.
At home I tend to get lost in my work, particularly as most of it involves creativity and there is no-one around to demand my attention.
This is the reason I purchased my Fitbit to monitor my movements and heart rate. I talked about Fitbits in one of my earlier columns. I am conscious of the need to move my body and numerous studies validate the need to exercise the muscles.
My new skipping rope cost $14.95, has black plastic handles with an internal ball bearing function for ease of rotation and a removable clip to shorten the plastic “rope”.
It took me ages to remove the large metal staple inside the handle just to cut the ends off, but eventually success reigned and I tested my new toy.
Nothing much has changed. I can still jump over a rope.
However there are limitations with outdoor exercise for females who don’t have an exercise buddy. There are times when I want to do some form of short, quick exercise to increase my heart beat. But it is often close to getting dark and I don’t feel safe going for a walk or run in the streets alone, which is why I decided to go shopping for a skipping rope.
The benefits of making skipping part of your exercise regime include:
- Flexibility with time frames; You can either skip in the dark outside in the yard, find a space on the balcony or inside the home.
- Great for all weather conditions.
- Cheap and easy.
- The chance to compete with only yourself.
- Aerobic exercise is a quick way to get the heart rate up which plays a key role in health preservation (The American Heart Association recommends getting 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week).
One of the first things you must do, however is make sure your skipping rope is the correct length and you can do this by standing on your rope with one foot and lifting the handles until the rope is taut.
For most people or beginners, the top of the skipping rope handles should reach close to the shoulder, but for experienced skippers, the handles should reach the armpit or below.
I tried a couple of skips outside in bare feet. Wrong move. They hurt on the pavers. I advise you to wear runners for support and protection, unless you are on carpet.
Hang the rope where you can see it. Mine hung on a chair for about a week before it got the better of me.
I planned to begin with only 50 skips due to the “long break between drinks” as they say. However I made it to 100 then decided I needed to puff some more and settled for 200 skips.
I could have pushed further but I listened to my body and reluctantly realised there are times to make concessions due to age and thought “well at least it is a beginning”, given my accumulated sporting injuries over the years.
It’s important to be mindful of your limitations.
Unfortunately age alters the body and joint impact is one of the first things you notice.
Loss of condition of the connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments and cartilage can lead to injury. The body begins to lose muscle mass past the age of thirty and accelerates past the age of fifty. Women, more so than men, also lose bone density at this time. Scary thought, I know.
Skipping for me is to fill in the gaps. My focus is on strength training and aerobics for my exercise regime, vital for an aging body. So far my joints are not affected from skipping and I endeavour to resist barriers that are thrown at me.
Many people have chronic medical conditions and need to be aware of this when they try something new or push themselves.
It doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t move your muscles nor skip. There are other means of exercise you can adopt as long as you discuss what best works for you with your general practitioner. Ask them about skipping if you are unsure, rather than skip the concept!