Allan Lee, a rope skipping coach, marathon runner and Institute member, on one way to exercise while staying safe at home
Sports activities and daily exercise are good for optimizing our physical fitness and overall health. However, the closure of sports centres, athletic fields, gyms and parks driven by the COVID-19 pandemic has created inconvenience in the pursuit of doing regular sports activities and exercise. The gathering ban and compulsory mask-wearing policies have further complicated matters. Running or hiking while wearing a mask isn’t comfortable and could even affect our ability to breathe properly.
Exercising at home is a good alternative. There are many exercises we can do at home such as dumbbell exercises, lunges, planks, push-ups, squats, sit-ups and yoga, to name a few.
But have you ever thought of rope skipping at home? Rope skipping is a simple and effective cardio exercise that can strengthen your cardiopulmonary functions and help to maintain physical fitness while improving agility and stamina. All you need to invest in is a rope, suitable work-out clothes and shoes, and your regular time. A yoga mat can also protect your feet and help to dampen the sound for your downstairs neighbours.
Get started with the right skipping rope
Many people think that rope skipping at home would result in broken things owing to limited space. However, basic rope skipping actually does not need much space because the right length of rope would just be swung a few inches over your head and smoothly under your feet. To gauge how much space you will need, try lying on the floor with your legs and arms spread out – this is how much space you need for rope skipping. After you feel comfortable with the basic jump, you may want to try more elaborate rope skipping moves that would require a larger area, but the space depends on which techniques you would like to do.
After you have chosen a skipping rope, stand in the middle of the rope and hold the rope handles up to chest level. You will be able to see if the length of rope is right for you. A skipping rope that is too long will take too much effort to turn. Usually, the rope is longer than required for an individual rope skipping, so shorten it to the right length. All skipping ropes work indoors. I suggest choosing ropes with PVC cords if they are just for exercise.
Dress in sportswear and warm-up
Even at home, it is better to dress in comfortable sportswear to do rope skipping. Wearing a pair of suitable sports shoes with good shock absorption will help to protect your feet. Long leggings are preferred as being hit by the rope accidentally can be painful.
Before starting, it is important to do warm-up exercises for around 10 to 15 minutes to prepare the muscles. In addition, it can prevent muscle cramps and injuries caused by overexertion.
Warm-up exercises normally include stretching and joint mobility exercises. It is better to do them from head to neck, then shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, chest, waist, legs, then knees to feet. Be sure to drink enough water before doing the warm-up, as rope skipping is a vigorous sports activity.
Skip with proper posture
After the warming up, you can start skipping. The proper posture for basic rope skipping includes keeping your head up, looking forward, keeping a straight back, lowering your elbows close to your body, bending your elbows at an angle of 90 degrees, keeping your feet close together, swinging the rope using your wrists and skipping on the balls of your feet. Try to avoid landing on your heels. When you land, you can slightly bend your knees to absorb the impact.
How long to skip depends on your physical strength. I usually skip for around 30 minutes with short breaks of two to three minutes in between. Afterwards, it is important to return to your normal heart rate by doing cool-down exercises, which include some light stretching.
Rope skipping helps develop six elements of coordination – an attribute linked to athleticism. These are balance, reaction, rhythm, synchronization, fine-tuning and spacing.
To maintain good health and physical fitness while at home, consider getting a rope to start skipping. Enjoy your skipping-rope home work-out!