When you think of going on a health and fitness kick, you might not want to go for long runs, or join a gym and learn to use all the different machines and free-weights on offer. Many people just want to be able to do their cardio in a short space of time and get it over with, for little to no expense.
If that's you, we can heartily recommend jumping rope. You might think of the schoolyard when you think of jump rope, or skipping, but don't be fooled: it's one of the best exercises for weight loss you can do, making for a perfect addition to any home gym and a great alternative to HIIT workouts in front of the TV.
After all, there's a reason most boxers jump rope to test their fitness and coordination.
It's also great for improving your health and fitness, especially burning fat and boosting heart health. According to an article published in the Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology, as little as 10 minutes of skipping exercise a day could do it. Scientists examined a group of 18-25-year-old previously inactive men over 12 weeks, having them skip for between 5 and 10 minutes twice a day.
After 12 weeks was up, the researchers found the men's "VO2 max" and "functional movement screening" scores had both drastically increased. VO2 max is a figure designed to indicate the maximum amount of oxygen a body can use during exercise: the higher the number, the fitter you are.
Functional movement screening, on the other hand, grades individuals on their mobility, stability and symmetries in their movement. The higher your FMS score, the lower your risk of injury and the better you can move. Both scores shooting up after the skipping trial means as little as 10 minutes of skipping a day is enough to see results.
Got five minutes before and after work? You can skip, becoming fitter and moving better as a result. This of course has a beneficial effect on body fat: quite apart from burning calories during the jump rope workout, researchers have found an indication of VO2 max being inversely proportional to body fat percentage: put simply, the fitter you are, the less body fat you're likely to have.
You're also able to move better, for longer, which allows you to go harder in all your other workouts. This will increase those workouts' fat-burning effect.
Whether you're doing a complex weight-lifting routine with the best adjustable dumbbells or you're lacing up a pair of running shoes, the improved balance and movement score from the jump-rope will make a big difference in your training. The improved fitness will also mean you can exercise harder, for a greater length of time, burning more calories and ratcheting up your exercise post-oxygen consumption, or EPOC.
Not sure how to get started? Check out the 10-minute beginner routine below. All you need is a jump-rope and perhaps a set of the best cross-training shoes to put a spring in your step.
Watch: 10-minute beginner workout from Jump Rope Dudes
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Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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