Control and reduce appetite
Photo source: Beatrice Murch
When you next see a group of kids skipping in the schoolyard, follow their lead, because while it may not be state of the art, the humble skipping rope could be one of your most effective fitness tools.
Skipping works absolute wonders for your bones, heart, dexterity, balance and brain, and a recent study at the Faculty of Sport Sciences, Waseda University located in Tokorozawa, Saitama-ken (Japan) has found that it can to some extent, curtail and even reduce your appetite.
Skipping is an activity not only suited for competition or recreation, but also for a cardiovascular workout, similar to jogging or bicycle riding. This aerobic exercise can achieve a “burn rate” of up to 700 calories per hour of vigorous activity, with about 0.1 calories consumed per jump. Ten minutes of jumping rope is roughly the equivalent of running an eight-minute mile. Jumping rope for 15–20 minutes is enough to burn off the calories from a candy bar.
Skipping can avoid the knee damage which may occur during running, since the impact of each jump or step is absorbed by both legs. Skipping also helps strengthen the arms and shoulders. This combination of an aerobic workout and coordination-building footwork has made jumping rope a popular form of exercise for athletes who require speed and agility – sprinters, hurdlers, martial artists, boxers, and all codes of field sports (football, Union, Hockey and Rugby League).
Individuals or groups can participate in the exercise, and learning proper jump rope technique is relatively simple compared to many other athletic activities. The exercise is also appropriate for a wide range of ages and fitness levels. Jumping rope is particularly effective in an aerobic routine combined with other activities, such as walking, cycling, or running. Many badminton players and tennis players around the world jump rope to increase their endurance for competitions.
According to the study at Waseda University, researchers noticed that the level of hunger hormones:
- a) ghrelin [is secreted from the lining of the stomach. When you have not eaten for many hours, your stomach will secrete a lot of ghrelin to remind you that you need to fill it with something wholesome!] …was lower in a group who did three 10 minute bursts of skipping (weight-bearing), while a group that cycled (non-weight-bearing) for the same time didn’t experience the same drop in appetite.
- b) Leptin [is made by our fat cells (adipose tissue) and is secreted into the circulatory system, where it travels to the hypothalamus. Leptin tells the hypothalamus that we have enough body fat, so we should eat less or stop eating. Ideally the fatter you are the more leptin you make; thus you will eat less food and have a higher metabolic rate. Conversely, the less fat you have, the less leptin you make and your hunger will increase.] …correlated to fat mass — the more fat you have, the more leptin you will produce.
The results indicated that the weight-bearing skipping exercise has a greater exercise-induced appetite suppressive effect.
“Skipping is a total body workout,” according to Professor Robert Newton, foundation professor of Exercise and Sports Science at the Edith Cowan University in WA, and that “It activates most of the muscles in the body., it’s fun and it’s virtually cost-free.”
Benefits of skipping for 30 minutes each day:
Skipping movement puts repeated stress on bones, which can reduce the rate of bone loss. “Bone responds and grows due to a change in force. With skipping, you constantly impact the ground and that provides stimulus for bone to grow,” Newton says. “When you walk, the impact on bones is low so it doesn’t really stimulate growth.”
When you use the whole of your body during exercise, you use more oxygen, to which repeated exercise will increase your body’s ability to use oxygen and enjoy a more strenuous workout. “Activities like skipping, cross-country skiing and rowing activate most muscles in the body and you get a good cardiovascular effect,” Newton says. “Interval training is particularly effective, so skip faster for a minute, them walk for a minute, skip for a minute, walk for a minute, and do that for about 20 minutes.”
DEXTERITY & BALANCE:
In skipping, your body has to constantly adjust core muscle groups with each step.
“Your mind has to control all body movements and control the rope and timing as you jump – [this culmination of contstant dynamic action improves] balance,” Newton says. “It also strengthens the lower back and hip muscles, abdominals, front thighs, hamstrings and buttocks, which all helps to improve balance.”
Skipping exercises will use more energy than walking, cycling or even jogging – you lift your body off the ground with each skip, and that burns a lot more kilojoules. “When you have to move your whole body, it starts to shed weight to adapt,” Newton says.
Both sides of the brain have to work together to control rhythm, timing and space as you skip. The repetative contact of the rope on the ground can also be meditative. Increasing your heart rate will deliver an increased amount of blood and nutrients to the brain, which helps improve alertness and focus.
Please keep in mind that if you plan to start skipping but haven’t been physically active for a while that you should consult your doctor.
“If you are over 35 and have any health risk factors, do check with your GP first,” Newton says. “Stop skipping if you develop serious aches and stiffness. That means you are doing too much too soon, so gradually increase the amount you do each week.”