Hop to it! This old-school recess favorite has great fitness benefits for grown-ups. Jumping rope is an effective cardio exercise that works your arms, legs, and core, helps strengthen your bones, and improves balance. Try this routine, designed by Virginia-based jump-rope expert Buddy Lee (buddyleejumpropes.com). Begin each move standing with your knees slightly bent, holding the rope at about hip height, with your palms facing your body. With each jump, push evenly off the balls of your feet, keeping your knees soft and your torso upright. Resist the urge to bounce between jumps.
A note on ropes: If you’re a beginner, grab a heavy PVC rope (available at most sporting-goods stores; test the weight by hand). Its weightiness will make you jump more slowly. As you advance, switch to a lighter PVC version, which will let you jump faster, increasing intensity.
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Move 1: Basic Jump
Swing the rope over your head and jump as it passes your feet (near right illustration). You don’t have to jump high, just enough to clear the rope (far right). Land evenly on both feet. Continue for one minute, then rest for one minute.
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Move 2: Alternate-Foot Jump
Swing the rope over your head and jump as it passes your feet (near right). Land on your right foot (far right). On the next rotation, land on your left. Continue this, as if you were running in place, for one minute. Rest for one minute.
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Move 3: Combo Jump
Repeat the alternate-foot jump for eight turns of the rope (near right). Next, do eight basic jumps (far right). Continue this alternating pattern for one minute, rest for one minute, then repeat the sequence one more time.
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Move 4: High Step
Repeat the alternate-foot jump (near right), but this time raise each knee to a 90-degree angle while jumping (far right). Continue for one minute, then rest for one minute.
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Move 5: Endurance Jump
Do either the basic jump or the alternate-foot jump for five minutes. If you can’t keep it up that long, start by jumping for one minute, resting for one minute, and repeating for five sets. Aim to complete at least 600 jumps total.