Do you remember skipping in the school playground with the big skipping rope? Fabulous fun wasn’t it? But if you think your skipping days are behind you, it’s time to think again.
The brainchild of Skipping Workshops, founded by ex headmaster and Ofsted inspector Harold Galley, the aim is to encourage boys and girls to take up skipping as a healthy and fun exercise.
In 2015, 62,450 children from 262 different schools took part and organisers are aiming for even greater numbers this year.
Their goal? To raise awareness of the benefits of skipping for children, including fitness and better playground behaviour, improving coordination, concentration, cooperation and communication amongst both girls and boys.
The list of schools taking part up and down the country is huge this year and certificates will be awarded for those taking part.
So if your son or daughter says they’ve been learning the continuous crossover, double Dutch, pretzel or keep the pot boiling, you’ll know their school has been taking part in National Skipping Day 2016.
A hop, a skip and a jump…
But if skipping is so great for boys and girls, what about skipping for grown ups? Does anyone over 12 still skip and do they enjoy it?
Lisa Knill, a lovely member of the Henpicked community and one of the two coaches for Marlow Rowing Club Women’s Squad, has introduced skipping to her squad of already extremely fit women of different ages.
“I was looking for a way to push up the girls’ heart rates so skipping seemed like a good option,” says Lisa. “So for roughly an hour we do one minute of weights-based exercise interspersed with one minute of skipping. The last 20 seconds of the skipping is speeded up to as fast as they can. The final part of the session focuses on core exercises and stretching.
“We all feel that the skipping has been really key to raising stamina and fitness and the girls all love it.”
A friend and fellow indoor rowing marathon man Stuart Walton, who runs Fitness By Fortitude – a personal fitness and lifestyle coach for business owners and executives – also recommends skipping for his clients.
Stuart told me: “Not only is skipping a great workout, a rope is one of the most portable pieces of equipment you can get, so I always have one with me when I travel and my clients do, too.
“A lot of people use skipping for a fat-busting cardio workout, but people sometimes underestimate it as a skill. It’s great fun to learn new techniques, which keeps things interesting as well as improving hand-eye coordination, balance and proprioception – knowing where our limbs are without having to look.”
According to Swedish fitness blogger, FitnessOnToast, skipping hits the ‘sweetspot’ as it offers a more intensive workout from a muscular and vascular perspective than walking, yet is lower impact on our joints and skeleton than running. Thank you to another Henpicked friend, Susie Nicholas of Diary of a Charity Chick, for sharing FitnessOnToast’s skipping blog.
So, skipping seems to have everything going for it for children and adults alike. It’s an effective cardio exercise, portable, fun, cheap – my skipping rope cost under £10 – and great for building up stamina.
Looking a little closer on Instagram I discovered someone for whom skipping has been even more important to her health and wellbeing. The lovely Yeshim Khan, aka SkippingGirl!
In August 2013, Yeshim, who will be 40 this year, was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. She gained weight and often felt exhausted. After her lymph nodes had been removed, she needed to exercise using her upper arms.
Yeshim remembered how much she had loved skipping as a child in Turkey, the joy it had brought her and her friends. So she began again! She now skips and walks every weekday, taking her skipping rope with her wherever she goes.
I asked Yeshim how skipping had helped her. She told me: “It takes my stress away and keeps my adrenalin up. I’m back to my old shape now. It’s a real therapy and I truly enjoy it.”
So did my research for this article inspire to take up skipping? Absolutely!
And how did I find it? Fun but much harder work than I thought it would be! It took me a while to establish a rhythm but with practice my confidence began to build and it gave me much more of a workout than I imagined.
At a time when fitness has become such a huge and often baffling business about what’s in and what’s not, it’s reassuring to know that a simple skipping rope can be so effective. It’s also lovely to think that childhood games can bring us health and happiness many years later.
Why not treat yourself to a new rope and give it a go? Double Dutch or Keep That Pot Boiling… I’d love to hear how you get on!
You can buy skipping ropes from Amazon here:
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