Doctor jumps around the world (video)

Elena Watts By Elena Watts

June 3, 2013 at 1:03 a.m.

Bruce Bauknight has literally jumped around the world.

The internist, 70, who practiced medicine in Victoria for 36 years before he retired in 2008, has jumped rope on every continent - a flat rock on a peninsula in Antarctica before an audience of penguins; a hotel veranda in Athens, Greece, where his wife captured the Parthenon in the loop of his rope with her camera; and overlooking Lake Tanganika and the Congo in Tanzania, Africa.

And the list goes on.

A cruise ship in Alaska, the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State, the Great Wall of China, Kangaroo Island in Australia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and New Zealand.

"When you're out of town and worried about the neighborhood the motel or hotel is located in or it's raining, you don't want to jog," Bauknight said. "You just push the furniture aside and jump rope."

As guest speaker at a recent meeting of the Victoria Rotary Club, Bauknight, who is also a member, shared stories of his travels and the jump roping he practiced along the way. Later, Victoria Rotary Club President Art Calvo approached Bauknight:

"Dr. Bauknight, you said you jump rope all over the world," Calvo said. "Would you jump for the Rotary Club?"

Before Bauknight revealed his 4,000 jump routine, Calvo offered to pay the foundation a dollar a jump to help with its various causes including literacy, clean water and the eradication of polio.

Calvo agreed to honor his offer, though he was speechless the rest of the meeting. Bauknight took it easy on him, though. He jumped 1,500 times, and the club raised $2,800.

The district governor caught wind of the successful fundraiser and asked Bauknight to jump in Rockport, where they raised another $8,000 for the foundation.

"So I don't know how long I can keep doing this," Bauknight said. "I don't want to go to the international conference."

In 1977, Bauknight began practicing the sport when he read an article lauding its benefits. He jumped in his bare feet on the carpet in his bedroom with a $3 rope, which he still owns, though ragged.

"It gets rid of the bad humors that happen, even though the day's been negative, negative, negative, at about 800 jumps, when I start perspiring, it starts clearing up, and everything falls in order," Bauknight said.

Over time, his routine grew more regular and moved to the fitness club.

Now, he jumps 4,000 times intermittently, which takes about 40 minutes, two to three days per week. He jumps fast at first, with both feet, before he skips more rhythmically, alternating feet and changing cadence every 100 jumps to keep track.

His entire workout takes about an hour and a half - 1,500 rope jumps, pushups or sit-ups, another 1,500 jumps, upper or lower body workout, 1,000 jumps, weights.

"I get my heart rate up to 130 - I check it with a chest monitor," he said. "Because of that, my resting heart rate, before I get up in the morning, is in the mid-40s."

A normal adult resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, and the lower the better.

It is a good idea to switch the exercise routine around, Bauknight said. He is so conditioned at jumping rope that he finishes with relative ease, while other activities like jogging and swimming are more challenging.

For a change of pace, he jogs and walks at an incline on the treadmill or walks 3 miles with "the guys" in the morning.

Philip Garza, director of DeTar Health Center, suggested those interested in picking up the sport start slowly.

"Don't expect to jump five or 10 minutes straight," Garza said. "Set realistic goals - take baby steps."

It took Bauknight a while to build his jump roping workout. He reached 1,000, then 2,000, and finally 4,000, where his routine has remained for more than a decade. Occasionally, he hits 5,000 on the weekends.

"The first time I tried 100, I thought I'd die," Bauknight said. "I was panting so hard - it just sounded horrible."

Jumping rope is a great full-body workout that can be done anywhere with a rope and a good pair of cross trainers or running shoes, said Marian Fletcher, executive director of USA Jump Rope, in an email. Speed jumping for 10 minutes at a moderate pace burns 125 calories - roughly a 10-ounce Bloody Mary or 3 ounces of lean beef.

"It is great exercise for cardiovascular health, weight loss and muscle tone," Fletcher said. "Jumping helps the lymphatic system, which is the fluid that makes up our immune system to circulate through the body, which helps to release toxins. We suggest working up to jumping rope for 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week with breaks."

Jumping rope improves cardiovascular stability, coordination and balance, which are especially important as people age, Bauknight said. Any exercise helps to avoid falls and broken bones.

"Once you break a hip, it's hard to recover," he said. "Most patients have a hard time getting back to not having fear of walking, and they are more prone to fall again."

Furthermore, rope jumpers land on their toes, rather than their heels like joggers, which is easier on the lower back, hips, knees, shins and ankles. Fletcher also suggests a knee or ankle brace for those with any kind of weakness or prior injury. Arms should be kept low with hands by the hips and elbows in close to the body.

"A tip to learn proper form is to roll up hand towels and place one under each armpit," Fletcher said. "Hold them there while jumping, and don't let them fall."

Exercise is a prescription for the rest of one's life, Bauknight said.

He keeps track of his steps, distance, stairs climbed and calories burned during the day by using Fitbit, a pedometer that automatically syncs his stats to his computer.

Bauknight even finds humor in technology.

Once, Fitbit made a mistake and reported he had walked a billion steps since he owned it. He sent a note asking the company to manage his bank account.

The pedometer also has an interactive component that allows Bauknight to set goals and challenge friends. He competes with a couple of friends in particular - a retired NBC cameraman in Chicago, also 70, and a gentleman who had a heart transplant who always wins.

"He cheated because he has a younger heart," he said. "Fitbit helped him recover from the transplant, and we cheered him on."

As part of his fitness regimen, Bauknight also aims to climb 10 flights of stairs and walk 14,000 steps per day.

He noted that everyone should try to walk 10,000 steps, or five miles, per day.

Jumping rope helped Bauknight in his medical practice when he worried about his patients. It cleared his mind and allowed him to see solutions.

Although he has retired, he continues to read electrocardiograms for Victoria hospitals, which can cause him concern.

"Jumping rope to this day still helps with worries," Bauknight said. "Sometimes, my wife tells me I need to jump rope."



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