A good exercise to do at home
A couple of years ago three friends and I celebrated Cinco de Mayo at a Mexican restaurant. We had fun, but ate a lot, and as we stared at empty bowls of chips and salsa we agreed we needed a workout to lose belly fat.
“Jumping rope is an easy exercise to do at home!” I said. “I read jumping rope for ten minutes equals jogging for thirty!” Since I don’t like to jog, that sounded like a good deal. I told them I would start jumping rope as a quick and easy workout to lose belly fat.
“You can’t jump rope for ten minutes,” one of my friends said. “It’s too hard.”
On my way home from dinner, I stopped at a big box athletic store and spent thirty bucks on a weighted training rope. I picked it from several available because I liked the promises on the package:
“Helps to improve conditioning and core strength.”
“Most need a heavier rope to train.”
“Some folks need a faster rope to PR on their double-unders.”
However, I later realized I didn’t know what a PR was, and couldn’t do double-unders, but…I like buying new gear. More on that later.
Exercise for Stress Relief
Any type of body movement is a good antidote for stress, but jump rope is particularly good for me because it helps get my heart rate into the zone of low intensity training. In his book Spark The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, John Ratey cites evidence that exercise at this level reverses insulin resistance, a contributor to body fat buildup, and also supports increased production of the calming and pleasurable neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
Workout to Lose Belly Fat
Perhaps when you tried to lose belly fat in the past you were lured by the “spot reducing” myth. That’s the idea that abdomen-focused exercises like sit ups or crunches will melt belly fat and give you the mythical six-pack abs.
The truth is, not really. While more strength in your core is great for tone and balance, the biggest contributor to belly fat is overall fat accumulation in your body. Thus, choose activities that reduce overall fat accumulation, like low intensity training and stress modulation. Jumping rope can help boost exercise into the low intensity training zone. Routine walks may not, depending on your fitness and walking speed. Keep reading for more resources on how to determine your target heart rate zone.
An Exercise to Do At Home
Jumping rope is a good exercise to do at home for several reasons:
- It doesn’t require much space
- It can be done inside during bad weather
- You can do it any time of the day or night
- It’s a fun activity to share with your children or grandchildren
- It doesn’t take much time
I’m writing this during the COVID-19 pandemic, when I don’t feel comfortable going to my gym. On bad weather days when I can’t walk or bike, jumping rope fills the gap.
Exercise in general is good for brain health, because it improves circulation and blood flow that nourishes the brain. Activities with complex movements require coordination between different parts of the body, thus give an extra boost to cognitive function because new nerve connections and pathways are formed when we learn new motor skills. As a result, jumping rope, dancing, and racquet sports may enhance brain health.
Finding Time to Exercise
If you take long walks every day, but still don’t see the difference in your body weight or trimness, you might feel discouraged.
“How much more can I do?” you might ask.
If that sounds like you, consider adding jumping rope might to your workouts to lose belly fat. It doesn’t require much time.
My friend was right. After I bought a jump rope I discovered I could not jump for ten minutes. At first, I could only do a couple of minutes before I got winded. I planned to gradually work up to ten minutes, but my knee hurt if I jumped that long. I still haven’t made it to the magical ten minutes that’s supposed to equal jogging for a half hour.
Yet I still jump rope, because it helps me get my heartbeat in the training range. I can walk briskly for a mile and never get my heart rate above 75. One minute jumping rope gets me into the moderate range.
A good pattern for me is to walk a mile, jump rope for a minute, then walk another mile. This feels like a good workout, but only takes an hour. That’s much easier to fit into my schedule than a four or five mile walk. It’s similar to my approach to bicycling that I described in my video review of John Ratey’s book: https://deborahrankinrd.com/spark
How Do You Determine Your Target Heart Rate Zone?
The Penn Medicine Heart and Vascular Blog provides good guidance for target heart rates during exercise. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/heart-and-vascular-blog/2018/march/exercise-target-heart-rate
They note these are just general standards. If you take medications that affect heart rate, or if you have a heart condition or are in cardiac rehab, you need special consideration and monitoring before starting an exercise regime. They say an exercise physiologist is a good resource to consult to develop the best exercise plan for you.
Jump Rope Moves
I am not an expert on that, because I just do the basic hopping jump. In my opinion, the American Council on Exercise gives the best information on jumping rope as an exercise. They show different jump rope moves and styles: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6395/7-benefits-of-jumping-rope/
Jumping rope is lower impact (i.e. less force on bones and joints) than running or jogging, but does put stress on your knees, ankles, and hips. Always check with your physician for approval before you begin a new exercise like this, and to reduce the risk of tripping or falling, don’t jump rope on carpet or grass. To reduce the impact on my joints, I like to jump on wooden floors, a smooth dirt surface, or an exercise mat.
Best Jump Rope
I am so happy you asked, since I love to buy gear—outdoor gear, camera gear, kitchen gear. The first jump rope I bought was difficult to use, so I ordered six different kinds from Amazon and tested them all! Sign up in the box at the end of this blog to get my report on the one I liked best, and why.
What About Your Workout to Lose Belly Fat?
Do you check your heart rate during exercise?
How long has it been since you jumped rope? Do you think you still can?
Many medical studies report that excess belly fat indicates a more serious health risk than being overweight. To discover what those risks are, and learn what category of abdominal fat you are in, check out my blog https://deborahrankinrd.com/calculate-waist-hip-ratio/
Your body is a beautiful, precious thing. Take care of it, feel comfortable in your skin, and enjoy your blessed freedom to move by caring for yourself with a healthy, sustainable workout to lose belly fat.
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