Jumping into good health!

Skipping rope not exclusive to the pre-teen years

By Leslie Garcia

Knight Ridder Newspapers

The last time you jumped rope, Cinderella was probably dressed in yella, heading upstairs to kiss her fella. Yep, she made a mistake, kissed a snake and how many doctors did it take?

Then you and your buddies were called to supper -- tuna-noodle casserole maybe, or chicken potpies. You rolled up your rope and carried it inside. The next day, you'd gather in the driveway and start the rhymes and jumps all over again.


You may think you're too old to jump now, that jumping rope is kid stuff.

Not so, not so. Freddie Cox of Dallas is 56 and hadn't jumped rope since -- well, since she and her buddies Diane, Linda Sue and Joanne did it together as pre-teens.

Now, though, she spends 45 minutes just about every Wednesday evening taking a jump-rope class.

"When we were kids, we just jumped rope," Cox said. "We didn't do things like 'walk the dog.' I was really shocked at what you can do. Rachel might say, 'We're going to do side-swing, side-swing, double, double, double.' "

Rachel is Rachel Van Castle, jump rope aficionado and instructor of Cox's class. She credits jumping rope with helping her lose the last 10 pounds after her baby was born.

"I decided to take my rope and go into the studio," she said. "It helped me reclaim my body."

Her class is part of a resurgence of jumping rope, which even includes a competitive bracket. Plus, jumping rope is officially recognized as a sport by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).

Besides convenience (you can take a rope virtually anywhere) and economy (jump ropes cost as little as a few bucks and rarely more than $20), benefits of the exercise include:


Improving cardiovascular endurance and performance. "After jumping rope, all of a sudden, a spin class is like a walk in the park," Van Castle said.

Strengthening legs, especially after such moves as jumping on one leg and squatting as the rope twirls.

Improving coordination, speed and agility.

Toning upper body muscles as well as muscles of the lower body. It also helps sculpt abdominal muscles and reduce cellulite.

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