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Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali once said: "Float like a butterfly sting like a bee – his hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see." He was talking about the skill of a boxer, who floats like a butterfly because of the lightness in his feet despite being a heavyweight!

Boxers are usually associated with the strength in their punches and how many they can land on the opponent’s body, but few take into account their speed and agility - which is visible in their exemplary footwork. That speed can be attributed to the countless jump ropes boxers perform in training sessions.

That's right - what was once a fun leisure activity to be performed at family picnics or in the school playground can actually be incorporated as a part of various fitness routines and is an excellent exercise in itself. Skipping ropes, as it is called by the British and in our part of the world, is a fun exercise that can burn calories faster than even jogging.

So whether you want to lose weight or gain speed and agility or just become more fit, skipping ropes is beneficial for you for these reasons:

  1. Skipping ropes is good for the heart
  2. Skipping ropes for weight loss
  3. Skipping ropes improves coordination
  4. Skipping ropes reduces injury risk
  5. Skipping ropes improves breathing
  6. Skipping ropes for a full-body workout
  7. Skipping ropes increases bone density
  8. Skipping ropes sharpens your thinking
  9. Skipping ropes is easy on the pocket

As far as cardio activities go, skipping is a great exercise to elevate your heart rate without taking much time. As compared to running, walking, cycling or swimming, it doesn’t require access to a training facility, the outdoors or even an expensive treadmill or a bicycle. Skipping ropes can be done inside a room, on the spot and produce the same results to get your heart pumping blood faster.

Read more: Best cardio exercises for heart health

Constantly jumping up and down at the same place is bound to consume a lot of energy. As it turns out, skipping can burn more calories than half an hour of jogging! The practice of jumping rope burns calories much faster than some well-known cardiovascular exercises, taking a lot less time to reach your fitness goals in the process.

Read more: How to lose weight fast and safely

The expression “thinking on your feet” may not have come from jumping ropes, but skipping does help improve the body’s coordination by combining the movement of the hands with the feet. The reason boxers and other sportspersons incorporate skipping into their training is to enhance their body’s coordination and make them lighter on their feet, allowing them to move faster and improve their reaction and reflexes.

Another benefit of using skipping ropes as a training method - for other sports as well as a workout in itself - is that it strengthens the bones and joints in the feet.

Those playing sports that require frequent changes in direction can benefit greatly by including skipping in their training routine. Jumping on the balls of your feet helps in feeling light-footed while running, stopping and changing direction quickly in sports like badminton, tennis, basketball or football. It helps strengthen and stabilise joints in the ankle and feet and strengthens the ligaments and tendons holding them in place.

Read more: Workout injuries

Skipping is a great activity for improving your performance in endurance sports, as it helps improve your lung capacity. Constantly jumping at one place allows your lungs to adjust your breathing function, allowing you to breathe more efficiently while running long distances, swimming or cycling for a long time.

Skipping rope regularly can also improve your performance in other sports - especially in field sports at higher competitive levels.

Read more: Benefits of warming up before exercise

While the activity isn’t a weight-training exercise to build lean muscle, it helps tone and shape multiple muscles in the body at the same time for a full-body workout. The rotational movement of the arms helps strengthen and tone the biceps, triceps as well as the shoulders, and the continuous jumping on the feet helps the glutes, thighs and the calf muscles to a large extent.

Read more: Intense bodyweight exercises you can do at home

Various studies have indicated that the best exercise to promote bone density in the body is to simply jump up and down for a short duration regularly; skipping ropes is an excellent exercise for this - not to mention, it is a super-fun activity. Those suffering from underlying injuries or illness related to depleting bone health, however, must consult their doctor before pursuing this exercise.

Read more: Exercises for osteoporosis

According to the British Rope Skipping Association, skipping ropes helps with the cardiovascular function of your body which in turn helps improve the functioning of the brain as well. The exercise helps develop the ability to think and react faster, a major reason why boxers, MMA fighters and even ballet dancers regularly perform this exercise. It is believed that skipping ropes or simply jumping helps in the development of the left and right hemispheres of the brain - this helps in improving spatial awareness, memory and makes you more alert.

Granted, nothing can be more accessible than the two natural human movements - walking and running - but skipping ropes essentially involves another natural ability: to jump. This activity is inexpensive as skipping ropes are reasonable to purchase. They are extremely portable, too, which makes it possible to skip anywhere.

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References

  1. Trecroci A et al. Jump Rope Training: Balance and Motor Coordination in Preadolescent Soccer Players. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2015 Dec; 14(4): 792–798. PMID: 26664276.
  2. Kirthika V et al. The Effect of Skipping rope Exercise on Physical and Cardiovascular fitness among Collegiate Males. Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology. 2019 Oct; 12(10):4831-4835.
  3. Eler N. The Effects of the Rope Jump Training Program in Physical Education Lessons on Strength, Speed and VO2 max in Children. Universal Journal of Educational Research. 2018; 6(2): 340-345.
  4. Miyaguchi K et al Relationship Between Jump Rope Double Unders and Sprint Performance in Elementary Schoolchildren. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2015 Nov; 29(11): 3229-3233.
  5. Heart Foundation: National Heart Foundation Of Australia [Internet]. Canberra, Australia. Jump rope for life
  6. Mullur KVM and Jyoti DM. The impact of jump rope exercises on the body mass index of 12 to 16 years school children. International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education 2019; 4(1): 133-135.
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