Jumpstart Your Fitness: By jumping rope!

If you’re looking for a fast and efficient way to get in shape that needs little space and equipment, then consider indulging your inner child by taking up jump roping.

Even though it’s most commonly thought of as a kid’s activity, jump roping has long been used in training by boxers. And in recent years it has been gaining popularity for training in all kinds of other sports, including basketball and tennis, because of its awesome total-body benefits. Jumping rope for only 15 minutes will burn around 200 calories, and it will strength your heart, muscles and bones. Jumping rope also promotes agility and balance, and improves coordination, rhythm, and timing. A nice list of “features” for an exercise to have! And jumping rope doesn’t necessarily deserve it’s negative reputation as being hard on the knees and hips — it’s actually easier on your body than running (due to the fact that you land on the balls of your feet and can better absorb the impact).

Getting started jump roping is definitely inexpensive — all you need is a good pair of cross trainers and a rope. When shopping for a jump rope there is no right or wrong: plain rope or beaded, thick or thin — it’s really just a matter of personal taste as far as weight of the rope and the sound it makes as you use it. If you’re really cheap you can even pull down a piece of clothesline from the backyard! But whatever kind of rope you choose, one important thing to get right is the length: when you step in the middle of the rope and hold up both ends they should just reach your armpits/chest area.

As far as form goes, make sure you warm-up and stretch first. Then make sure you stand up straight while jumping with your head held high, keeping your shoulders relaxed and your elbows to your sides. Jump low and avoid hard surfaces like concrete to minimize the impact on your joints, and like any physical activity you should consult your doctor before getting started.

Jump roping is not for everyone, but it definitely deserves a look to see if it’s for you. It’s so easy and burns calories so quickly it might be just the thing to help you liven up your routine if you’re bored, or help break through a nasty fitness plateau.