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Skipping Your Way to Sobriety

“Skip, skip, skip to my Lou. Skip to my Lou, my darling.” This song evokes my childhood. I remember dancing to its lively tune. Most children skip spontaneously and without abandon. But then they’re told — explicitly or otherwise — to grow up, settle down and curb their enthusiasm. Kids lose a bit of their childish spark when they lose the skip. Fortunately, that spark can be relit.

A Movement-Driven Movement

In 1997, a friend of Kim Corbin’s invited her to skip down the street. Corbin, of San Francisco, said the skip felt so good that she couldn’t get enough, and she encouraged others to join in the frolic. She decided to keep the momentum going at Burning Man, an annual community-building gathering in the Nevada desert. And the skipping movement was born. Corbin — now known as “Skipper” Corbin — created in 1999. The iSkip online community shares stories about how this simple physical movement of skipping has brightened lives and elevated spirits — along with heart rates.

A Wealth of Benefits

It turns out that little bounce in skipping lifts the whole person. Benefits of skipping include:

  • It increases your heart rate and lung capacity.
  • It can be far more fun than more ho-hum workouts.
  • It might improve creativity.
  • It’s easier on the joints than running, but it’s also useful in training for more vigorous activities.
  • It doesn’t require equipment, special clothing, or gym membership (although comfortable, supportive shoes or sneakers are a good idea).
  • It can be done alone or with others.
  • It reduces stress and promotes laughter.
  • It can be meditative.
  • It’s ageless and can bring back pleasant memories.
  • It encourages participants to challenge their beliefs about what makes behavior “appropriate,” thus providing a low-stakes way to practice stretching comfort zones.

Skipping and Recovery

How does skipping apply to treating addictions and other mental health concerns? Studies have shown that engaging in exercise as a component of recovery can provide tremendous rewards, such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Reduction in anxiety and depression
  • Mastery of a skill
  • Building physical and emotional strength and flexibility
  • Improved sleep
  • A structured activity that takes the place of drinking or drugging
  • Improved body image
  • Stimulation of the immune system
  • New neural connections, which might help heal damage from substance abuse
  • Increase in the neurotransmitter dopamine, which affects the desire to use addictive drugs

Picture Dorothy and her cohorts making their way down the Yellow Brick Road in “The Wizard of Oz” or the title characters in “Laverne & Shirley” skipping in the show’s opening credits. You have the power to invoke that same carefree feeling — right at your feet. By Edie Weinstein, LSW Follow Edie on Twitter at @EdieWeinstein1

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