Q: How should I add jumping to my workout?

A: Being able to get up in the air will improve your balance, strength and coordination.

Jumping, as in vertical leaping, is better than a jump rope for being able to propel yourself upward. With a jump rope, your arms are busy turning the rope. With a vertical leap onto a bench or a sturdy box, your entire body concentrates on the joint flexing and the extension that gives your jump height.

But trying to jump high is not where you start. Start with the landing. If you don't land in a way that absorbs the impact, it will put a lot of stress on the bones and joints, perhaps causing an injury or a microtrauma.

Any jump should be landed as softly as possible, and only on flexed ankles, hips and knees. If you don't allow your joints to bend enough to absorb the impact, it can put severe stress on the anterior cruciate ligament.

Never jump barefooted: There are a great many tiny bones in the feet, and they will not all support the weight of your entire body landing on them. In addition, never jump without a thorough warmup and stretching.

Start your jump practice by just jumping over an unloaded bar at the gym, or the handle of a broom at home. Move your body as a whole unit; keep a straight spine. Hold your arms flexed at the elbow, slightly away from your body.

No matter what your favorite activity is, jump training will make it more fun.

— Wina Sturgeon, Tribune News Service