Let your favorite childhood pastime become your new workout obsession.

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If you haven't jumped rope since you were a kid, it's time to give it a whirl again, especially if you're lacking motivation to exercise. Fitness pros often recommend thinking about the activities you loved as a kid and recommitting to them as an adult to bump up your exercise enjoyment. But even if you've never jumped rope before, there are plenty of reasons to try it now.  

The Health Benefits of Jumping Rope

For starters, jumping rope is an excellent cardiovascular activity that will get your blood pumping, body sweating, and muscles working in a short amount of time. For the average person, just 15 minutes of jumping rope can burn 200 to 300 calories, says AJ Perez, Sweat Factor trainer and founder of Rumble Los Angeles, which means whatever your personal fitness level you can always expect a seriously good workout. And because it's a lower-impact workout, it's less stress on your joints than activities like running. Plus, the simple movement of jump roping amazingly targets several body parts—calves, core, arms, shoulders, upper back, and more—so, kind of like planks, it's a very multifunctional and efficient form of exercise.

Jump roping is also an activity that anybody of any fitness level can do. The key is to start slow and build your way to a more intense routine. The only caution, of course, is if you're dealing with an injury—like an ankle, foot, or knee issue—or health concern, in which case you'd want to check with your doctor, Perez says. 

Jump Roping Basics

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The Right Rope

When selecting the right rope for jump roping, aim for one that's light and has comfortable handles, Perez says. The rope he loves and recommends for beginners is from J Method, but there are dozens of jump ropes on the market. Spend some time finding the rope that feels best to you.

Where to Jump

Once you have your rope, choose your surface wisely. As you may have guessed, "the flatter the better," Perez says, adding that a hard surface is also key. For example, at boxing gyms, you'll often find a hardwood surface area in front of a mirror—a great set-up if you can find it. But you can also jump anywhere that's flat and open: on the patio in your backyard, a home gym area, or public park, for example.  

Proper Jump Rope Form

What's the right form for jump roping? Keep your arms positioned comfortably by your side, your elbows soft, and your wrists  mobile with the rope as you bring it over your head. Avoid putting stress on your back or shoulders and do most of the rope maneuvering with your wrists and forearms. Your shoulders will fatigue over time, Perez says, but if you can keep as much tension out of the shoulders as possible, you'll be able to conserve your energy longer and avoid unnecessary soreness.

Start Jumping

Then, simply begin practicing. If you're rusty or have never done it, know that it's going to take some practice to get it right. "The rope is going to hit your leg, and you may not look as fluid as you'd like, but consistency matters," he says.

As you practice jumping, think about jumping as low to the ground as possible, so higher isn't actually better. "Don't focus on your vertical when jumping, but on the timing and rhythm," Perez suggests, adding that you want to maintain a steady cadence. "You want the jump over the rope to be as smooth as possible." Once you get used to the movement, you can start increasing the speed of the rope and how quickly you jump.

Jump Rope to Workout

Once you've started getting the hang of jumping rope, there are several ways you can add it to your fitness program. And it can be such great exercise that it can function as its own workout. Jump for 10 to 20 minutes to get a steady-state cardio workout, Perez says. You can also use it as a warm-up before a hard workout, jumping for three to five minutes; or use it as a cool-down, perhaps at the end of a long workout. You can also weave jump roping into an exercise circuit to keep things interesting. Try jumping rope intensely for one minute, doing a plank for one minute, doing squats for another minute, then resting for one minute, before repeating the cycle again three to five times.