Skipping for better health and fitness
Many years ago, I read an article about why was it that only boxers and schoolgirls loved to skip, it was a fantastic article which turned me into a born-again skipping disciple, and I’ve been skipping ever since. I carry a number of different skipping ropes in my kit bag, that way I can choose the type of skipping I want to do and the main benefit I’d like to achieve. I have a warm rope which people tend to call a speed rope. I have a rope that enables me to do cross overs and similar movements, that’s my showing off rope. I have two different types of weighted rope that work my arms and shoulders a little harder while I skip, so I get all the benefits of skipping plus the added benefit of a weight bearing workout.
I shall briefly outline some of the awesome benefits of skipping but before I do, I just want to give a special mention about what I see as one of the most important benefits of skipping. The important benefit I refer to is, the cost. In these days where life can get very expensive, it’s nice to know that there are still things you can do that won’t cost the earth but the bang for your buck is still incredible. A skipping rope is arguably the cheapest piece of fitness equipment you can buy and the return on investment has no equal.
Many years ago, I had a weighted rope made for me by the British boxing champion Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham. He fought for the middleweight world championship way back in the old days. He said all I needed to do was to let him know my height and he got one custom made for me. Compared to some of the more expensive fitness equipment I’ve purchased the return on that very small investment has been fantastic.
So, what are the other fabuawesome benefits of skipping? Well, from a martial arts point of view, the benefits that we can get from skipping will really help us on our martial arts journey.
1. Improved coordination: to be a good martial artist you have to develop good coordination. Skipping was one of the main activities that I concentrated on in my early competition days. It made my general coordination skyrocket to levels I never could have imagined.
2. Increases foot and ankle strength: We often don’t think about foot and ankle strength but as a martial artist these areas need to be strong. Good strength in any area of your body will reduce the risk of injury but for any striking art we spend many hours on our feet, so strong ankles and feet are a must
3. Improves mobility: my style of fighting was one of mobility, I didn’t stay still for very long, so skipping was ideal to help and give me the strength to stay on the move at all times. The plyometric effect of skipping was priceless for me.
4. Burns calories: compared to running of which I did a fair bit of that too in the old days, skipping can’t be beaten. The scientific evidence is clear. You get a great workout in a shorter time while burning more calories and your risk of injury and damage to your body is drastically reduced. Ask those that have been running for some years about their knee pain.
5. Improves your posture. Humans evolved to stand and walk with the odd period of brief sitting. Well, with the age of the computer and smart phone, we’ve now blown our evolutionary traits out of the water. We now spend most of our time sitting or hunched over a computer or smart phone. That’s not great for our posture which in turn impacts our digestion and also the blood flow to our brain.
6. It’s so portable: You can carry two in your kit bag and one in your car and keep a few at home, you can even take one in your hand luggage on an aircraft.
7. Do it anywhere: I can’t think of many places where you couldn’t swing a skipping rope
8. It’s low impact: Once you get really good at skipping, you’ll be surprised how good it feels and how easy it is on your joints. Compared to running, it’s kinder on your feet ankles knees, back and neck, and your whole skeletal chain will thank you.
9. It looks cool: We all like to try and look cool while we’re exercising, when you get good at it, you’ll be able to throw a few skipping tricks to make yourself look even cooler
10. Saves time: in this day and age time is a real premium, soif we can claw a little time back by having a more efficient exercise regime, that’s got to be a good thing.
11. No special clothing needed: I wouldn’t recommend you skipping in your birthday suit, but you can do it in just about anything.
There are many other benefits that I could list here but if you pop ‘the benefits of skipping’ into a search engine you’ll probably be reading for the next 6 months.