Many of us have fond memories of skipping ropes on the playgrounds of yesteryear. A childhood game of “I betcha can’t make 100 skips,” or a jump-a-thon sponsored PE program come to memory. Nostalgia for jump rope isn’t child’s play. It can be an effective fitness device. Here’s why. 

A jump rope doesn’t take up any space. It won’t take up the spare room or half the garage with piles of boxes on top of it (looking at you, treadmill). It doesn’t require a large upfront expense. It’s an activity that can be done while on hold with customer services, or waiting for the kettle to boil for another cup of coffee. One can do it in the driveway, spare room, backyard or sidewalk. 

Jump rope is an aerobic exercise, requiring coordination, skill, and agility. It’s an exercise that has an impact that is lighter than running, but more effective than walking. Ankles, knees, and hips all can be worked effectively. 

It’s so simple, yet there are nuances you can employ to make it a more effective exercise. Try high-knee runners, side-to-side hopping, skipping, land on one foot. Change the tempo, change speeds, do intervals. All can be effective programs for adding a layer of complexity to jumping rope

Where to begin? Fit the rope properly: Hold the handles and stand on the middle of the rope with one foot. The rope handles should reach one’s armpits. Trim as needed. A beginner should simply try to swing the rope and step over it. Easy? OK now swing the rope around and hop over it. Stop and repeat this many times. Next practice air jumping (without the rope). Soon one will be able to skip the rope effectively.

Establish a rhythm and cadence.

A program can be interval based; use minutes as a parameter. Begin with 15 seconds of jumping, then 45 seconds rest. After 10 rounds this is a 10-minute workout. Progress to 30 seconds on and 30 seconds’ rest. Another 10 minutes. Soon, you can do 45 seconds, and 15 rest repeated over 15 minutes for a very solid workout. Then use different jump techniques, skipping singles, side-to-side for a dynamic workout. 

Remember exercise can be fun, jumping rope is a throwback to the playground of youth and can be a dynamic way to work one’s fitness in a new and fun way. The biggest benefit is the low barrier for entry, the limited equipment and space, and the versatility it provides.