Forget treadmills—this is the most underrated piece of cardio equipment, and it's less than $15 this Cyber Monday

Improve your cardiovascular endurance and boost your heart health with this cost-effective cardio tool

A woman using a jump rope
(Image credit: Getty / Filadendron)

There's a time and a place for exercise machines in your training, but there are other more affordable ways to get your cardio fix at home. 

Running is the most obvious affordable alternative to the best treadmills, exercise bikes and the like, but I want to highlight another often-overlooked item which is an ever-present in my gym bag: The Jump Rope. 

WODNation Skipping Rope: was: $17.99, now $13.59 at Amazon

WODNation Skipping Rope: was: $17.99, now $13.59 at Amazon

Save 24% A simple skipping rope can provide you with an efficient cardio workout that's much more fun than running. This one comes with a spare cable, so you can swap it out if the old one gets damaged. 

Four reasons to buy a jump rope

Woman jumping rope

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. It's versatile and fun

You can skip during your circuit workout for an extra heart-rate raising element, perform some skips in isolation for a bit of mood-boosting movement, or set your sights on learning fun new skills like the jump rope cross-over or double-unders—a sure-fire way to make your training more engaging.

Word to the wise though: If you're looking to progress beyond normal skipping styles, you'll want a speed rope like the WOD Nation one above, as these have thinner cables and are made to move more quickly than thicker traditional jump ropes. 

2. It's a cheaper home cardio option

Even premium jump ropes aren't going to break the bank. 

I use the Bulldog Gear JR1 Intermediate Bearing Speed Rope, which I picked up for roughly £10 a couple of years ago. 

But if you're in the States and want a similarly affordable item, the WOD Nation Adjustable Speed Jump Rope (down 24% on Amazon over Cyber Monday) should see you right.

Both cost about 1% of the price of the most affordable Peloton Bike. Admittedly, my jump rope doesn't have a built-in touchscreen or smart features, but like the Peloton Bike it's an effective way to put my heart and lungs to work. 

3. It's effective

"A 10-minute daily program of rope skipping is as efficient as a particular 30-minute daily program of jogging for improving cardiovascular efficiency."

Or so says a 2013 study published in the American Association For Health, Physical Education And Recreation

Improving your cardiovascular function (relating to the heart and blood vessels) will have a whole host of positive impacts on other health outcomes. 

These include improving your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, reducing your risk of many diseases including heart conditions, and strengthening your heart and lungs, according to the Cleveland Clinic

4. It's compact

I like exercising, a lot. I probably wouldn't have this job if I didn't. 

So, when I head on holiday, I like to find ways to slot some sort of workout into my mornings. 

The jump rope provides an elegant solution, taking up next-to-no space in my travel bag while offering an easy way to get my heart pumping with an al fresco session. 

The CrossFit workout Annie (alternating sets of 50, 40, 30, 20 and 10 double-unders and butterfly sit-ups, completed as quickly as possible) is one I always find myself coming back to for a fast, fun challenge.  

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.