Jumping rope develops cardiovascular and muscular endurance along with agility, coordination, and muscular strength. You can do it virtually anywhere and it costs almost nothing for the best equipment. Best of all, it's easy to learn!
With so much going for it, jumping rope may seem like a perfect exercise. Boxers swear by it; professional baseball players do it both in and out of season; and forty thousand girls in Manhattan take part in yearly competitions of double Dutch jumping (that is, jumping with two ropes that are spun at the same time in eggbeater fashion).
Like all aerobic exercises, jumping for your health needs to be eased into. Jumping rope can raise the heart rate too high and too fast to be safe for those who are not already fit. Ten minutes of fast rope skipping gives a person a brief aerobic workout; but for full aerobic benefits, strenuous skipping needs to be sustained as long as strenuous running.
For those in search of a good form of exercise, rope skipping should be used the way professional athletes use it: not as their basic workout but as a special supplement for agility, muscular strength and endurance, and for its cardiovascular benefits on rainy or snowy days, when outdoor exercise such as walking or jogging is difficult.
Some equipment is crucial. A good pair of aerobics shoes, or a supportive pair of sneakers, will save wear and tear on feet and knees. The right rope is important, too. It should be heavy enough to develop a steady rhythm and long enough for the ends to reach your armpits when you stand on the center of the rope.
At first, turn the rope just fast enough to keep its arc. As you get more comfortable, go faster. Since jumping rope raises your heart rate fairly high, alternate 30 seconds of jumping rope with 30 seconds of jogging in place for the first several weeks. Gradually build up to two-minutes intervals of jumping - and be sure to warm up and cool down.