Rocket Jump Exercises for Diabetes Self Care

When it comes to Type 2 diabetes self-care, exercise is one of the most common things that people struggle with and a barrier to proper self-care. But we found that many of these reasons can be solved if you just start simple. This is where rocket jumps can be a great fit for diabetes self-care.

The Rocket Jump

The rocket jump is a plyometric exercise that uses quick, explosive movements to build strength and improve speed. Why do we like it for diabetes self-care? Because it’s simple, takes a few minutes and burns fat.

How to do a Rocket Jump

The rocket jump is basically a squat exercise pushing to a jump and landing gently back to a squat position, then repeat for the next rep. Here are the steps:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, toes forward, knees bent, and body slightly forward.
  2. Squat about halfway down with hips and butt back and chest out front.  It may help to stick your arms straight back.
  3. Then launch your body with your legs and jump with arms reaching overhead.  Keep your body straight while in the air.
  4. Land softly on the ground by bending knees and drop low in the next squat position.  Make sure that your landing weight is balanced on each leg.
  5. Then use the momentum to jump for the next rep.

Below is a picture from this article on biomechanics showing the main positions of the rocket jump and a here’s video on the complete movement (link).

rocket jump diagram

Go slow at first so you perform each movement properly. 

The standing position – are feet shoulder width apart? Weight balanced on each leg? The drop – are legs and knees the right angle? Each foot pointed forward?

The jump – arms and legs fully extended? Back straight? And the landing – land with legs bent?

Checking  these helps prevent injuries and maximizes the exercise movements.

Variations

You can also do variations of the rocket jump to match your fitness level. 

To start off easy keep jumps low with each foot just off the ground,  take more time between reps, or do stationary squats (no jumping).

To make it harder use more power from your legs and thighs to jump higher, or pull in your legs and knees in the air at the high point of the jump. 

And to make it even harder, try an advanced technique called a jumping lunge (shown below). This variation starts from a lunge position with one leg back, blast to a jump, and repeat by alternating between each leg.

jumping lunge diagram

How Much Time Rockets Take

A rocket jump routine of 5 to 10 minutes can be very effective if you maximize that time.  For this we like using a high-intensity interval training or “HIIT” model. 

Based on Self.com, HIIT involves doing explosive exercises or movements for a set time, followed by a time of rest – this is one “interval.”   Do as many reps in each interval and the rest-to-work ratio is usually 2:1 or 3:1. 

We suggest starting with a total 5 minutes of rocket jumping. Then over time work to a goal of 10 minutes total.  Below are sample “work / rest” intervals:

  • 5 minutes:  3 Sets = 20 sec. work / 80 sec. rest
  • 10 minutes: 3 Sets = 40 sec. work / 160 sec. rest

Try to perform as many as possible but it doesn’t have to be as fast as possible!  Like we said above, first focus on proper form and movements then push yourself to do more reps.

How Many Calories Burned

The rocket jump is an anaerobic exercise that uses glucose for energy, which is ideal for Type 2 diabetics that need to lower A1C.  Anaerobic exercises deprive muscles of oxygen, causing muscles to release stored glucose into the blood (for energy) so the muscle can absorb more oxygen.  

The rocket jump movements also use the larger muscles of the body (quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings) along with smaller support muscles in the abs, lower back, and calves.  So by using several muscles in just one exercise you’re able to burn more calories in a short amount of time.

Data on the rocket jump is scant but squats are a good proxy since the major movements are similar.  According to this study on the energy used by resistance exercises, squats burned an average of 35 calories per minute and was the highest out of the other exercises studied.

That means you can burn at least 350 calories with only 10 minutes of rocket jumping!  We say ‘at least’ because compared to a standard squat, rocket jumps add a vertical jump that uses more force and the entire body.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • A quick warm up and cool down is a good idea for rocket jump routines.  Even a couple minutes stretching, stationary jogging or a brisk walk can help with blood flow and flexibility.
  • The exercise is still doable if you have back pain or joint issues because the rocket jump uses your bodyweight for resistance. Just start slow, focus on form and keep the movements easy (see variations above).
  • Pay attention to jumps and landings to minimize injuries.  For example, be sure to use your legs to power the jump (not your feet and toes) and landing with each foot flat to save a sprained ankle.

Summary

The rocket jump is a great exercise to kick start your Type 2 diabetes self-care.  The movements are simple, burns a lot of calories to lower blood glucose (and lose weight and fat), and takes only 10 minutes of your day.  And you can modify the exercise to make easier or more intense when you’re ready to push yourself.

You can’t rely on the rocket jump alone for exercising and overtime should add more workouts to continue to improve Type 2 diabetes. 

But if you’re struggling just to get started with diabetes self-care, the rocket jump is an easy first step in taking control of type 2 diabetes.

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