Jump for Joy

Jump for Joy

Obesity depends in part on the way we use our leisure time. In the past, children spent a large part of their time playing active outdoor games, now they’re more likely to be found indoors, watching TV, sending text messages or playing solitary computer games. Three hundred years ago Sir John Arbuthnot, physician to Queen Anne, reported that children

in England spent hours every day in the streets and fields skipping, climbing trees and playing games of hopscotch and tag. Today, according to a survey carried out by folk lore specialist Steve Roud, these activities play a much less significant role in children’s lives, and virtually come to an end at the age of eleven when they transfer to secondary school, as he relates in his recently published book The Lore of the Playground.

This is a major cause of the growing epidemic of obesity among children. To counteract this trend, some schools in Britain are now introducing a ‘five-day-fitness’ programme, in which children are encouraged to get up from their desks and copy the activities displayed on a white blackboard in front of them. These may be star jumps, twirls, skips or dance movements. To give a boost to this crusade Sainsburys, the UK supermarket chain, has launched an Active Kids campaign, raising money which has enabled thousands of schools to buy sports equipment, ranging from hula hoops to trampolines and climbing walls. But for the last seven years the most popular of these exercise aids has been the skipping rope. This is a slimming aid which can be used with benefit by young and old alike, for six minute’s skipping consumes a hundred calories, which is twice as much as the energy burnt in six minute’s jogging.

Adults would be far less likely to put on weight if they had five daily sessions of skipping. This is a policy followed in Japan, where some factories have introduced occasional exercise breaks, during which employees are encouraged to quit their benches and skip. As a result Japan now has an estimated twenty million serious skippers. It also boasts the world’s only professional skipper, Katsumi Suzuki, who can single-skip non-stop for over six hours. He can also perform quintuple skips, which means making an amazing five turns of the rope for every leap in the air.

The skipping vogue is also making waves in America, where a skipping rope is known as a ‘jump rope’. Here teams with names like ‘Jumping for Joy’ regularly compete to show their prowess in speed events and performances of spectacular tricks like the Criss-cross, Awsome Annie and Donkey kick. At present the world speed record is held by an American, who has made two hundred jumps in thirty seconds.

But there’s no need to be an athlete to enjoy the benefits of skipping. This is an exercise which anyone in reasonable shape can pursue. Historians believe that the early ropes were made from vines in about 1,600BC, but can’t be sure whether the pastime began in Egypt or among the Australian aborigines. However there’s no doubt that skipping is an excellent conditioning exercise. This was well established in Skip to It!, a book written by American fitness expert Susan Kalbfleisch, who has no doubt that ‘Skipping is a fabulous exercise The most basic jump requires co-ordination and skill, as well as rhythm, balance and endurance. Skipping conditions the heart and lungs and tones the muscles.’  When performed regularly it’s also an excellent way of keeping slim.


Hundreds of scientific papers are now being published every year about the causes and cures of obesity. This worldwide plague is now the world’s number one cause of chronic illness and premature death. You can learn the secrets of healthy, life time weight control by following the practical tips extracted from this on-going research and posted regularly on www.donaldnorfolk.co.uk/obesity. If you would like to receive this information directly, please send your eMail address to contact@donaldnorfolk.co.uk You have our assurance that this service will be offered without any commercial advertising or sponsorship, and that your email address will be treated in absolute confidence and not disclosed to any third parties.

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