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Interested in starting a jump-rope routine? There is one caveat: Ten minutes of jumping rope, if you're not used to it, can seem like several times that.

Here are tips to get you on your way. They're from Rachel Van Castle, who teaches a jump-rope class.

- Stretch your calves before and after the workout. Otherwise, the next day you might have a hard time walking.

- Wear cross-training shoes.

- Rope choice is as personal as shoe choice. For instance, cable ropes - those with a plastic or nylon coating - are lightweight, turn easily and are good for speed, agility and cardiovascular strength. Beaded ropes - those often used in elementary schools - are slightly weighted and good for beginners.

- Jump on a wooden deck, a padded floor or carpet with a short nap.

- To determine whether a rope is the right length, step on it with both feet. The handles should reach your armpits. The more skilled you get, the shorter it can be.

- Start slowly, even if you're in shape. Try for a minute or two initially, then rest and stretch your calves.

- Don't worry about lifting your knees high; it can be a waste of energy. Ditto for "double bouncing" as you jump.

- Start with a two-foot "boxer shuffle" in which your feet stay close to the floor.

- Keep your elbows close to your sides as you turn the rope.

- If you keep tripping over the rope, try spinning your rope faster.

- Make rope jumping part of a fitness routine, not the whole routine.

For more information, check out or (USA Jump Rope).


(c) 2003, The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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