Hop, skip, jump

While skipping, the calf and the thigh muscles receive the greatest workout

While skipping, the calf and the thigh muscles receive the greatest workout  

SKIPPING BURNS calories faster than most exercise activities. At 750 calories per hour, it easily beats tennis (400 c/h), fast walking (440 c/h), jogging (740 c/h), brisk swimming (500 c/h) and cycling (640 c/h). These bald facts aside, skipping is FUN. Jumping up and down is a child's natural reaction to joy, and skipping, even when old men do it to break records, looks like an expression of joy. Speaking of old men and records, a 71-year-old, Tom Morris, once skipped his way across 2,000 km of the Australian continent!

For homegrown inspiration, there is Chennai's Vadivelu Karunakaren who, in 1990, skipped 16 km in 58 minutes. Skipping is an all-round exercise. The calf muscles and the thigh muscles receive the greatest workout, but it also exercises the muscles of the chest, shoulders, back, arms and chest.

For a very good reason, it is the favourite warm up exercise of boxers.

Mohammed Ali's ability to "float like a butterfly" helped him dance circles around his opponents, and the time he spent skipping in the gym built up the calves that had his opponents chasing ghosts in the ring.

The knees and ankles bear the brunt of the impact, but good shoes, soft ground and proper technique can minimise the risk of injury. The low jump technique - when the feet lift just enough to allow the rope to pass through - is the best for beginners and for those returning to the rope after a long break.

Skip-running is of higher intensity. The high-jump method is the most intense, and it is also hardest on the knees. Landing with the knees crossed (cross-step technique) is a variation on the high-jump method, but it is not for everyday exercise. It is ideal cross-training for athletes involved in high-intensity sports.

Common sense will prevent most injuries. Exercise on soft but stable ground — like a carpeted surface. Wear well-cushioned shoes. Remember that the ligament arches of the feet work best when impact falls on the balls of the feet. If you are new to all this jumping, go easy on your feet by adopting the low-jump technique. Increase the height of the jump only after conditioning yourself with a few weeks of low jumping.


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