The Diet Detective: Stay Fit With 2 Popular Childhood Games

Jumping Rope

Benefits: "It develops endurance, quickness or both, depending on how you train," says Dr. Ken Solis, aka Dr. Jump and author of "Ropics: The Next Jump Forward in Fitness" (Human Kinetics, 1991). "(It) improves coordination, timing, rhythm, agility and upper and lower body muscle tone. It's inexpensive and has literally hundreds to thousands of skills for variety."

Jumping rope has a good cardio emphasis, some low-intensity power, balance, coordination and agility, and could offer some benefits to flexibility if the arm and leg positions vary, Comana says. "It will also produce an aerobic training effect if continued for 15 minutes or more," adds Phillips.

What You Need: A jump rope

How You Play: "For a beginner, the best jump-rope will be made of a fiber rope that is able to turn at the handles so it doesn't get twisted so easily," says Solis. "Ropes made of woven fiber cords don't sting so much when you miss, and you can progress to faster leather, plastic-beaded, or plastic-cord ropes when you have experience and want to jump faster. Also, be sure the rope can be adjusted for your height. If you stand on the middle of the rope, the ends should come about up to your armpits."
To get started, Marty Winkler, co-owner of RopeSport, suggests the following:
  • Use some wrist and forearm when turning the rope. Make small circles or a cranking motion.
  • Jump only an inch or 2 off the ground.
  • Land softly.
  • Look straight ahead. Watching your feet doesn't help.
  • Keep hands level with the hips. Don't let them raise or lower.
  • Push off and land with the balls of the feet. Heels should just tap the ground.
  • Relax your neck.
  • Avoid hunching.
  • Keep your elbows bent as if you were holding a curl bar. A rope that's too long will pull your elbows away from your torso.
  • Remain loose but controlled.
  • Breathe normally. You should be able to have a conversation while you're jumping.
  • If you get tired, you can still get a great workout by turning the rope to the side of your body or by just holding onto the rope and continuing to mime the jumping motion.
How Many Calories You Burn*: Slow jumping burns 9.4 calories per minute and 281 calories per half-hour. Moderate jumping burns 11.7 calories per minute and 352 calories per half-hour. And if you really get cooking, fast jumping burns 14 calories per minute and 422 calories per half-hour.

*Based on a 155-pound person
Charles Stuart Platkin is an Active Expert , nutrition and public health advocate, author of the best seller Breaking the Pattern (Plume, 2005), Breaking the FAT Pattern (Plume, 2006) and Lighten Up (Penguin USA/Razorbill, 2006) and founder of Integrated Wellness Solutions. Sign up for The Diet Detective newsletter free at

Copyright 2008 by Charles Stuart Platkin

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