Jump! A Great Way to Get Heart Healthy

Jump for heart health

Jumping is a great way to get kids moving. Jumping rope is a great activity that can begin a long life of healthy activity. Jumping rope is a great way to get heart healthy.

Obesity has becoming an increasingly common health concern in children and adolescents. According to the CDC, 12.4% of children aged 2-5 years old are now obese compared to only 5% in the late 1970's. For children aged 6-11 years, 17% are obese compared to 6.5% in the late 1970's. For children aged 12-19 years, the numbers are similar, 17.6% compared to 5%.

Obesity in children and adolescents puts them at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol), and Type 2 diabetes. Overweight children and teens are much more likely to become or remain obese as adults.

So it is important to find ways to encourage them to be active and eat healthier when young. The "Jump Rope for Heart" program is a great way to encourage those activities.

The program was begun by Milwaukee Riverside High School physical education teacher Jean Barkow in conjunction with her local American Heart Association chapter back in the late 1970's. It has become a way to raise money to fight heart disease and stroke while teaching children about heart health, nutrition, and physical activity. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the "Jump Rope For Heart" program.


If your school doesn't have a "Jump Rope for Heart" program, then you can get started on your own. Jump ropes are completely affordable. Most range in price from $5 to $25. A jump rope that's made of plastic or plastic beads is a good choice. Cloth ropes are often too flimsy. Soft foam handles and a swivel-like turning action will make the rope more comfortable to use. Jump ropes are not one-size-fits-all. To make sure yours is the proper length, stand on the center of the rope with one foot and pull the rope straight up along the side of your body. It's a perfect fit if the handles reach to your armpit.

Jumping can take some practice. It's a workout that uses your entire body. Don't get discouraged if your muscles tire easily the first few weeks. If you stick with jumping, you will gain endurance over several weeks. Aim for jumping three or four days a week.

Start slow. Begin jumping in short, 15 to 20 second bouts of jumping interspersed with 30 to 40 seconds of complete rest or light marching in place. Repeat this pattern 5 to 10 times. As your stamina increases, lengthen your jump bouts and shorten your rests.

When you can jump for at least five minutes straight it's time to mix up your footwork. Try hopping on one foot then the other at each turn.

Be patient. Jumping rope takes skill and coordination. With diligent practice, you can improve your skills surprisingly fast.

American Heart Association
Center for Disease Control and Prevention