Forget the fancy gym equipment or the latest "boot camp" class. If you'd like to boost your physical activity and find health benefits for everything from bone strength to blood pressure, head to the nearest schoolyard for an effective fitness workout.
Is your regular exercise routine walking or jogging? Then you're ready to add some variety by jumping rope, just like you did in third grade. You'll still be getting great aerobic conditioning while also strengthening your body's coordination and balance. Professional athletes such as boxers and tennis players jump rope to warm up as well as build their skills.
When you jump, wear well-cushioned aerobic shoes and choose a grassy spot or clay tennis court instead of hard jumping surfaces. Stand straight but relaxed, holding the handles of the rope lightly. As you jump, turn the rope from your wrist. Healthy jumping is low jumping, so lift your feet just enough to clear the rope quickly. Jumping high and landing hard can hurt your knees or ankles.
Did you like dodgeball or kickball in elementary school but haven't played since? An increasing number of adult exercise classes are using schoolyard games to build fitness. You may find them offered in community recreation centers, fitness clubs or private leagues. One program incorporates old favorites such as "tug-o-war," Wiffle ball and tag into no-scoring-allowed activities. Even a game of jacks can help build hand-eye coordination.
Can't find a program near you? Just call up a few friends, grab a ball and head for the local schoolyard. You might have so much fun that you forget you're actually exercising.
United States Tennis Association, "Improve Your Game: Jumping Rope," http://www.usta.com. Accessed September 16, 2008.
American Council on Exercise, "Jumping Rope: Not Just for Kids Anymore," http://www.acefitness.org. Accessed September 11, 2008.
Georgia State University, "Jumping Rope," http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwfit/jumprope.html. Accessed September 16, 2008.
Old School PE, http://www.oldschoolpe.com. Accessed September 30, 2008.