A widely cited study found that jumping rope is one of the most effective cardio exercises out there—and it can whip you into shape with just a few minutes a day of skipping. In the study, after six weeks of daily 10-minute jump-rope exercises, participants demonstrated the same levels of improvement to their cardiovascular health as individuals who jogged for 30 minutes a day. As it turns out, just jumping up and down is a more efficient workout than pounding the pavement—achieving the same results in a fraction of the time. According to research, jumping rope at a moderate pace roughly equivocates to running an eight-minute-mile. Plus, it burns more calories per minute and engages more muscles than swimming or rowing, while still qualifying as a low-impact workout.
“There are so many health benefits from jumping rope,” Jeremiah Maestre, boxer and trainer at Rumble Boxing in New York City, says. “You get increased cardiovascular levels, flexibility, rhythm, muscle tone, shoulders, arms, and legs.”
The total body benefits are the most impressive part of a jump rope workout. "It's certainly good for the heart," Peter Schulman, MD, associate professor, Cardiology/Pulmonary Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, says on WebMD. "It strengthens the upper and lower body and burns a lot of calories in a short time.”
Depending on what style of jump you do, you can target almost any body part. “Jumping rope benefits your full body,” Maestre explains. “From your lower body to upper body and core—depending on what jump rope drills you choose, you may feel it more so in your shoulder and calves. And your cardio will feel heightened as well.”
“Keep it simple to start,” Maestre says. “Two feet at once, then alternate your feet, then maybe bounce on one foot, try some high knees, then graduate to double-unders. You can criss-cross, and get creative. Try to mix the different formations. And remember that anytime you mess up your rhythm, keep bouncing on the toes with the rope in hand still.”
It doesn’t take too much skill, money, or space to get a good rope workout in. Whether it’s your garage, a hotel, a park, or the back room of the office, you can almost guarantee that if you want to, you can make a good skipping session happen anywhere. Just carve out fifteen minutes and try Maestre’s go-to jump rope circuit.
Jump Rope Circuit
A traditional boxing round is three minutes of work with a one-minute break in between each round. Choose however many rounds you want to do on the rope first (a minimum) of three and attempt to keep jumping rope through the one minute breaks. Alternate high knees, single leg jumps, regular skipping, two feet jumps, side to side jumps, criss-cross, and double-unders. Switch it up, get creative, and try not to stop.
Total workout time: 12 minutes
For the last :30 of each round push the intensity/speed with double-unders, high knees, and criss-cross formations. And if you mess up, keep going!
“Of course I am not perfect but anytime I mess up on the rope I keep bouncing on my toes with the rope in hand only to ease back in to the flow,” Maestre says.
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health US.