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How jump rope helped me manage my type one diabetes

When the pandemic hit the UK, I panicked. Not only because of what might happen if I got Covid, but because I realised through lockdown just how little I moved my body.

 I used to love sports when I was younger and being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10 meant that my main concern was whether I could still play football! Fast forward 15 years and I had grown to hate sports but realised I needed some form of exercise to help manage my blood sugars and improve my insulin resistance.

That’s when I started looking at exercises I could do at home and discovered jump rope.

 To be honest I had forgotten jump rope even existed outside of primary school, but in July 2020 I accidentally came across a list of benefits of 10 minutes of jump rope on Instagram. After a quick Google to confirm, I found a whole list of benefits to jump rope;

 Improved cardiovascular health and circulation

  • Boosted immune system
  • Balanced and more active metabolism
  • Increased co-ordination, focus, and dexterity
  • Improved joint health

 It was also very easy to get started with, with most jump ropes coming in at less than £10! It was the ideal exercise for me to help manage my blood sugars throughout the uncertainty of lockdown; I ordered a jump rope immediately.

Then, I started trying to jump

 I could barely jump over the rope on my first day, but I quickly engrossed myself in the jump rope community on Instagram and soon learned how to do tricks and different styles of jumping. I now use my platform to spread awareness of T1D in the sport. Within the first few weeks of jumping, I started to notice my blood sugar levels were more in range, my energy had increased, and my mental health had improved massively.

 I do not let my diabetes stop me. Through trial and error, I have found understood how my body reacts to a skipping workout and how to adjust my diabetes management for it.

 It is scary worrying about our blood sugars plummeting during exercise, but the beauty of jump rope is that we can go at your own pace. If it makes you feel more comfortable, start by jumping for 1 minute and slowly increase it until you start to feel more comfortable with anticipating how your blood sugar will react. You can monitor your blood sugars as frequently as you want and stop as quickly as you start. 

 10 months on from picking up a rope and I am still skipping every day. It is hands down the most fun exercise I have ever done - jump rope really has been life changing, not just in terms of my T1D. Diabetics and non-diabetics alike reach out to tell me I have inspired them to pick up a jump rope and it is so rewarding for me knowing it has had the same effect for them.

 If you have any questions about jump rope and my experience with it, feel free to find and drop me a message on Instagram @diabetesandjumprope.

Key Messages

Olivia’s story and insights into how jump rope improved not only her blood glucose control, but also an array of other health aspects, is an important reminder for us all. You don’t have to do hill sprints, a 60 minute weights workout, or a 10km run. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are doing something. All exercise is the same intensity, it is about how hard YOU make it. Olivia started off slow at her own pace, and gradually improved and increased the intensity of her exercise.

The main thing is that Olivia started. You can’t win a race you don’t start. Olivia shows an awareness of the health benefits of exercise and demonstrates a commitment to her own health by training at home. Jump rope is super flexible because anyone can buy one online and skip either in their garden, hallway, or anywhere.

If you can manifest the courage and drive to start exercising – be it running, squats, or jump rope – you can enjoy the list of health benefits Olivia has experienced. There’s a reason that people who exercise love it – because it is just so good for you.

If you do one thing differently this week, buy a jump rope.

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