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Planning Retirement Online

Out of the box - Skipping

                                            June 2009


This is our regular OUT OF THE BOX feature where we give suggestions on different things to try.    

If you have tried something unusual or different, tell us all about it - and send in a photograph as well if you can – so that we can share your experiences with others.



This month……


skippingWe usually think of skipping as an activity for young children, skipping around the playground in break time or in the garden after school.

In fact, skipping is a wonderful way to exercise and is being taken up more and more by adults across the country. It is equal to running at around 12 kph based on calories you burn a minute and, more than that, it is a really good cardiovascular workout. It has lower impact than running which is better for your joints, and it also helps exercise your calves, thighs, bottom and shoulder. Finally, it carries only a very small element of risk and you can do it in a small area, or even indoors if you can clear space large enough with a high ceiling.

There are a few techniques that help. First is the length of your skipping rope – this is important and varies according to your height. Let the rope touch the ground in front of you, or step on it with your toes, and then lift the handles up in front of you. The ideal length is if the handles come up level with your armpits. Too long or short a rope can make skipping really hard work and difficult. Some modern high tech skipping ropes include a device to adjust the length, but otherwise you can always tie knots near the handles to adjust the rope length if you need.

Once you are skipping, you should try and keep your elbows around waist level with your arms out sideways at around 90 degrees. This is the ideal position but you may find a slight variation more comfortable. Hold the rope handles loosely and make sure you jump on the balls of your feet. Then, simply turn your wrists and get the rope going.

To start with, you may find just a simple stepping over the rope is all you want to do, but as your progress it will become easier and easier. Ideally you should be aiming at one turn a second, or 60 turns a minute and rather than stepping, progress to jumping with both feet off the ground at the same time.

Once you are feeling fit and confident, it could be time for skipping tricks. This is where the fun comes in! The easiest is simply the cross over; crossing your arms right across the front of your body once the rope has passed over your head and jumping through the loop. Then go back to normal skipping.

I remember from my childhood doing the “double” – turning the rope completely round twice in one jump. Obviously you need to jump a little higher and turn the rope really fast and this is as much about technique as it is about fitness; a little practice and you will soon be amazing your friends!

Once you have got to this stage, not only will you be fitter and far more in trim, but you may also want to try for more complex skipping tricks (bell jumps, twists, straddles etc). If you really get enthusiastic, then there may be a local skipping club in your region, or you may be ready for national championships – or even the World Skipping Championships! Yes, skipping really is becoming a serious pastime and it is ideal for all ages, including us!

More information is available at the British Rope Skipping Association website:

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