It turns out that one of your favorite schoolyard games doubles as one of the best cardio workouts.
A jump rope weighs next to nothing and can fit in your pocket, and when you start using it, you can burn approximately the same number of calories you would when running an 8-minute mile. It is considered one of the most effective workouts due to this calorie burn, as well as its higher intensity, its additional resistance component and its use of the entire body.
"Jumping rope for just 10 minutes is a huge dose of aerobic exercise," Neil Johannsen, an assistant professor in the Louisiana State University School of Kinesiology, told The Huffington Post. "It's a vigorous exercise that works all the muscles in the body as opposed to something like walking. You can walk up to a vigorous intensity, but you're only working a few muscle groups. Jumping rope makes you use your arms, your core stabilizer muscles, all the leg muscles, and it gets your heart rate up in that vigorous exercise range."
Jumping rope is also considered by some fitness professionals to be an effective way to reduce cellulite. For example, Edward Jackowski, the CEO and founder of Exude Fitness who has who has observed such changes in his clientele over the course of 30 years, calls jumping rope an "intensive cardiovascular workout" that could reduce cellulite by burning fat stores.
"Cellulite occurs when fat cells push against the surrounding subcutaneous connective tissue in your skin," Jackowski told The Huffington Post. "If your lymph circulation becomes sluggish, toxins accumulate in these fat cells. Interval training with the jump rope improves your lymph circulation... Jumping rope can cause thousands of muscle contractions that pump your lymphatic fluid out of problem areas, reducing fluid congestion in your tissues."
Johannsen agrees that cellulite reduction is plausible, but the fact still remains that there are no completed laboratory tests confirming such an effect. "Scientifically speaking, cellulite isn't just a matter of fat buildup -- it also includes the connective tissue in that area to make it dimple, so it's more complex than making the cell bigger or smaller," he said. "But to reduce the mass of it, you have to burn fat."
Jumping rope is both aerobic and includes resistance, making it an exercise that promotes fat loss and minimizes muscle loss simultaneously (most forms of cardio lead to the loss of both fat and lean mass). "When you push off the ground to jump into the air, you're lifting your body weight off the ground," explained Johannsen. "And when you land, in order to dampen that force of you landing, you're engaging those muscle groups similar to if you were doing some sort of light resistance training."
From its cardiovascular benefits to its fat-burning potential -- not to mention affordability, portability and ease of use -- jumping rope could be worth a try. Want to check it out? Here are a few different types of jump ropes that can elevate your experience:
The jump rope is even joining the fitness gadget scene. Forget tracker wristbands and heart rate monitors -- this wearable technology is something you can physically use to improve your fitness.
Smart Rope might take your jump rope workout to a whole new level with this LED-embedded prototype that connects to your smartphone and soon it'll be able to keep you in sync with your workout routine, no matter where you are.
According to their video explainer above, 23 LED lights display up to a 4-digit number, keeping track of your jumps as you work and reminding you of available battery life. Its Bluetooth capability also syncs with its maker, Tangram's SMART GYM app to store all of your workout data (jumps, time, calories burned, etc.) from the jump rope to help you get healthier.
Lightweight Speed Ropes
On the other hand, one of the main benefits of jumping rope lies in the fact that it can be so simple. We at HuffPost Lifestyle are fans of minimalistic, lightweight plastic speed ropes like this one from GoFit. Quality speed ropes can cost less than $5 and definitely get the job done.
Weighted Jump Ropes
If you're looking for additional resistance (and fitness challenge), we recommend giving a weighted jump rope a try. This leather rope from Nike has a smooth rope design and durable grip handles to help you work even harder.
For those who are interested in using their jump rope for a variety of workouts, it's worth checking out Crossrope, a jump rope system with interchangeable ropes and handles to cater to strength on one day and speed on the next. The original Crossrope Elite system, for example, comes with nine cable types and easily adjustable weights ranging from 2 ounces to 3 pounds. The free Crossrope app for iOS devices also just launched on July 1, which offers jump rope interval workout ideas for exercisers of all levels.
Beaded Jump Ropes
And even the classic beaded ropes that mentally take you right back to high school gym class will get the job done. This beaded rope from Fitness Gear, for example, will run you less than $10, and many find that the beads not only help with speed, but also with consistently timing the rope through spin after spin after spin.
At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter if you opt for the high-tech gadget or the old schoolyard classic -- the jump rope is essential to your personal fitness arsenal.