Getting children to be more physically active can be quite challenging in today's world where everyone seems to have their attention glued to a screen. Kids no longer want to go outside and play because they have a world of entertainment at their fingertips on cell phones, tablets and laptops. Whether they are playing video games, watching movies or exploring websites, kids seem to love technology more than ever before. This is causing them to become more sedentary.
Parents often struggle to find fun activities that will get their children up and moving around. It can be tough to convince a kid that there are fun things beyond the screen. There is also always the fear that a parent may spend a lot of money on activities only to have the kids shun them.
The good news is that there is a simple and cheap way to entertain kids and get them moving. The old classic, the jump rope, can be a great way to get kids outside or at least get them moving. It can be used indoors as well, so the fun doesn't stop just because there is bad weather or you cannot take them outside. The best thing is you can pick up jump ropes almost anywhere, even the dollar store, and they won't cost you a lot of money. Let's look more at how you can use jump rope exercise to help your kids get active.
The Benefits of Jumping Rope
One of the best things about jumping rope is that it offers a range of benefits to your child. There are, of course, the physical benefits. Jump rope activities can help your child get more physically fit. Specifically, the following are the physical benefits:
- Strengthens muscles
- Improves bone health
- Improves reflexes
- Increases motor coordination
- Improves balance
- Improves speed and agility
- Exercises the cardiovascular system
Jumping rope also can have mental benefits. Research suggests that this activity can boost creative thinking, along with helping to develop the brain. This can lead to improvements that go far beyond physical fitness, such as better reading skills, improved memory and sharper metal alertness. This activity also can help children to overcome shyness and socialize more, as it is a fun group activity.
Beyond the direct benefits, jumping rope is a great activity because you can do it inside or outside. It is not expensive, and almost anyone can do it. It is also an activity that you can do with your children, which helps you spend more time with them and improves your relationships.
Choosing a Rope
Before we look at the different activities that use a jump rope, you need to find the right jump rope for your child. They come in a variety of lengths. If you get one that is too long, it can trip the child up. If it is too short, then it becomes difficult to use, as it won't swing up and around the child's body as it should.
To choose a rope, the person should hold it and stand on the middle while raising the handles up. The handles should reach about ear height.
9 Different Jump Rope Exercise Activity Ideas
The best thing about jump ropes is they are very versatile. You can do a lot of different things with them to help keep kids from getting bored. The various activities also work the body in different ways and allow for some creative thinking. Here is a look at nine ideas of how to play with a jump rope.
1. Snake Jump
This activity requires at least two people. It can be played inside or outside. Start with the rope laid out on the floor. One person will be the jumper, and the other will control the rope. The person controlling the rope will start wiggling it from side to side. It should not leave the ground but rather move in an "S" pattern. The jumper will jump from side to side over the rope, trying not to touch the rope. If he or she touches the rope, then it is the next person's turn.
2. Broad Jumping
This activity can work with any number of people, although it is more fun with more people. It can be done inside or outside, but outside play will allow for more freedom in jumping. This is a contest to see who can jump the furthest. The rope lays on the ground in a straight line. Each person takes a turn jumping over the rope to see who can jump the furthest. When jumping, each person should keep his or her feet together, and jump and land with both feet at the same time.
This can be done with any number of people and works inside or outside. The rope should be laid out on the floor in a straight line. The jumper will stand beside the rope at one end and then jump with both feet together and knees slightly bent from one side the other over the rope as if skiing. This should be done all the way down the rope. An alternative version for younger children who may not be able to master jumping side to side is to jump forward and backward down the rope.
4. Swinging Rope
This one is a lot of fun but should be done outside. If attempted inside, make sure there is a large, clear area in which to play. It requires at least two people. One person will hold the handles of the rope, folding it in half. Then squatting down slightly, the person should begin swinging the rope in a circle. As the rope swings by, the other person has to try to jump over it.
5. Regular Single Jump
This is the standard method of jumping rope where a person holds one handle in each hand and swings the rope up and over the body. As the rope comes back down, the person jumps over it.
6. Alternate Footing
You can vary regular jumping by changing foot patterns when jumping. One option is to land with one foot heel down and the other foot toe down, alternating the heel and toes with each jump. A person may also try jumping on one leg or landing with feet spread and then together, alternating each time.
7. Group Jump
This is another standard method of jumping rope. It requires at least three people. Two of the people hold the rope between them, each holding one handle. They then swing the rope so that it moves in the traditional circle pattern up and over. The jumper can either stand by the rope before it is swung or jump into the rope after the swinging has begun. Another option for those who may not be coordinated or be new to jump rope is for the two swingers to just gentle swing the rope back and forth instead of circling it.
8. Double Dutch
Double Dutch is a more advanced jump rope exercise. This activity requires two ropes. Like with group jumping, there should be two people who will hold the ropes. They hold the end of one rope in each hand. Then, they swing the ropes in opposite directions. So, if the right hand is circling in, the left hand will circle out. This requires a lot of coordination between the swingers. The jumper will then have to jump the two ropes, which also requires great skill and coordination.
Single jumping, group jumping and double Dutch can be more fun by including rhymes. Children can make up their own rhymes. There are also many tried-and-true rhymes out there that you can use. Rhymes usually are a game of sorts. They may include instructions on how to jump, such as jumping with one foot. They can encourage multiple jumpers or be otherwise inclusive, such as a rhyme where people will begin to jump when their birth month is said.
Other rhymes may be simple fun challenges to see who can jump the longest. For example, a rhyme may end with something like "how many candies did you get" and then the jumpers count until they mess up jumping. The number they reached is "how many candies" they "got."
A Word About Safety
While jump ropes can be a lot of fun, they also can be dangerous. You should never allow children to play with a rope unsupervised. When play is over, you should keep ropes up and out of reach. Children should never put ropes around their necks or tie them to anything.
Jumping rope is an amazing activity to help kids get healthier and get moving. It can be creative and fun, allowing kids to work not only their minds but also their bodies. There is a range of different ways to play with a jump rope, so it is hard to get bored. Once kids learn how much fun jumping rope can be, they are sure to want to put down the screens and get moving.