Get A Jump On Your COPD! Jumping Rope - A Novices Approach
Posted Sep 12 2008 7:18pm
I receive lots of emails from people all over the world who have some form of COPD. Many of them are already discovering the health benefits of exercise. They have found out that even moderate exercise, performed daily, makes a world of difference in their ability to breath.
Still, I do receive more than a a few emails from people who have not begun a workout program. They came to this site to check it over and see what is here. They have reviewed the articles and looked over the exercise programs that we currently have available, and still have not found what they are looking for.
I suppose that some of them are dealing with lung issues that prevent them from getting into some form of progressive resistance training. Or, maybe they are just intimidated by the notion of strength training in any form, feeling that do not possess the raw talent or skill necessary to engage in that type of exercise. The following paragraphs should help almost anyone get started in a basic, no frills exercise program using the old fashioned JUMP ROPE!
I should warn you that I am far from an expert rope jumper. In fact, I am terrible at it. I am getting better though, and I am starting to enjoy it more as I do. The more proficient you are at jumping rope, the more intense the exercise will become. You should begin to see greater and greater health benefits from the exercise the more skilled you are at it. So, practice is what makes perfect in this case.
As for tools go, you will need a good jump rope, and I while you can find a good rope at any local sporting goods store, I can recommend no better a rope than the Boa 2000. This is the one I use.
This is a professional speed rope, and the design of it is superb. You can see from the photo that the rope is thicker in two places. This strategic design adds weight to the rope as you spin it. The faster you spin it, the heavier it gets exponentially. And because it is already heavier than most standard ropes, this is not like using your average, run of the mill leather/bead rope. A leather/bead rope will work just fine and I have used them in the past. But for me the Boa works even better, and especially so for our purposes.
Remember, we do not just want to get endurance, but we also want to strengthen and add muscle to our bodies. The Boa will place greater stress on your shoulders, biceps, forearms, upper back and hand muscles (grip). A regular rope can do this to some extent, but not as much as the Boa 2000. Either choice will benefit you, but I just wanted you to know what I am using and why I recommend it. OK, enough of the shameless commerce. Let’s talk jumping rope.
I am using a rope in my training for three reasons: One, cardiovascular improvement. Two, agility and coordination, and three, to make my lungs healthier.
Strength training is awesome, and the way I do it is very challenging for even the most seasoned athlete. But I still want some targeted cardio work and the rope affords me that option. Additionally, my lungs are fighting an already tough foe in the form of COPD, and the rope helps me clean my lungs more efficiently and in ways that medicine can’t. I need to stop for just a second to explain something to you.
This is my personal approach to managing my health and getting fit. You are the final arbiter of your own health, and you have to manage it the way you see fit. You are responsible for your own health. I am merely offering my own experience for you to consider. This column needs to be received as a suggestion that, based on my own experience, might help others. In the end, you need to consult your physician and talk to them about what you read here. As I have said before, I am responsible for my own health. What you read here is my own personal approach to fitness. Yours may be entirely different.
Moving along, to be honest when I began jumping rope a few months ago I did not like it. Not only did it feel awkward and clumsy, but the better I got at it the harder it became, and for reasons having to do with both conditioning and preexisting medical challenges. As you might expect, the better I became at jumping rope, the longer I could spin it without catching the rope on the tops of my feet or stepping on the rope as I descended. What that meant, of course, was that I could spin it for greater amounts of time, which placed greater demands on my endurance and also my muscles. In fact, I would actually get sore in almost every area of my body from using the Boa.
Additionally, the better I got at jumping rope, the more I could focus on my technique and breathing, and less on the mechanics of jumping rope itself. This afforded me the opportunity to turn the exercise into a form of therapy for my lungs. As I jumped rope, I could alter the rhythm of the rope, as well as my breathing, in unique ways that was designed to actually cause me to wheeze more. Believe it or not, that is what I am aiming for when I use the rope!
Wheezing, as unpleasant as this sounds, is an indication that things inside my lungs are shifting and moving around. The more I jump up and down, the more stuff moves around and the more stuff I get out as a result. I admit the process in an unpleasant one, and it is hard as hell. In fact, it is downright brutal sometimes. But the good news is that as each day passes, I have less and less stuff in my lungs to contend with. In short, I get healthier.
I begin each rope session with an objective of 1000 total rotations, broken up into manageable mini-sessions. Currently, I start out with a moderate pace for 200 initial rotations, non-stop (i.e. mistake free) if possible. At that point, I take a break. I use this time to allow blood to get to all parts of my body. I also clear my airways if needed. After about 45 seconds, I begin knocking out sets of 100 revolutions/rotations, spinning the rope as fast as I can. When the rope is spinning, I keep my grip tight, my head up and my shoulders back. I don’t move my hands very much. The rope develops a momentum all of it’s own that is maintained by the slightest rotation of the hands, which is so slight as to me almost imperceptible.??
In terms of respiration, I try to keep my breathing relaxed. I try to keep my diaphragm relaxed. I want the lungs to sort of bounce and move around a bit. This jiggling effect has great therapeutic benefit for me that no amount of medication can yield, but it makes me cough more, which is a good thing, even though it is unpleasant.
I tend to take about 60 seconds between “sets”. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on my needs.
This is roughly a 20 minute workout and can serve as a great workout by itself, or a perfect way to warm up for a primary workout.
As for my meds, I have my inhaler’s handy just in case. That said, I really prefer not to use my meds while I do this, as the meds I use affect heart rate and blood pressure and so forth. I sometimes do my meds before I workout. When I do, I like to medicate 20 minutes prior to my workout. Also, I sometimes use my meds 10 minutes after my workout. Again, this is my approach.
What I have noticed with this form of exercise is a real improvement in the efficiency of my lungs. They are less congested from day to day and I find that between workouts I have a much easier time. No doubt about it, rope jumping allows me to get a jump on my medical issues and I am able to stay ahead of my condition.
Until God steps in and heals me, I will do this each and every day. You can count on it.