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Just Jump And Burn Calories

Rope jumping is an effective cardiovascular workout that's easy to do at the gym, as an exercise while traveling, when you're out with the kids, or even at home in front of the television. It's lightweight, easy to pack and you don't need much space.

It's also an excellent fat burner. According to the National Institutes of Health, jumping rope burns approximately 750 calories per hour, which is more than any other popular exercise except running. The faster you jump, the more calories you burn.

So Bally Total Fitness trainer Nikki Kimbrough visits The Early Show to demonstrate some fun moves and offer the following tips:

The Right Rope - The first thing you need to do is choose a jump rope that is comfortable for you. Some people prefer speed ropes made out of plastic, but others like leather or nylon ones. It really doesn't make a difference for performance. It's just a matter of personal preference. You can also get ropes that have calorie counters built in so you can tell how many calories you've burned during your workout.

Length Of Rope - To determine how long a jump rope should be, use one foot to step on the center of the rope, and then, pull the handles taut. The handles should come up to the middle of your chest. Next, make sure you have a good pair of aerobic or cross training shoes with lots of cushioning for the balls of your feet. Also, don't jump rope on concrete. That can overwork the joints and body in general. An exercise mat, wooden floors, a gym floor or even carpet are great surfaces for a jump-rope workout.

Music - It often helps to put on some upbeat music and jump to it. Increase or decrease the tempo as you see fit. As long as you keep jumping rope, or even swinging the rope at your side, you'll get a very effective cardiovascular workout.

Classes - If you don't to rely on jumping at your own pace, there are classes at fitness centers dedicated to jumping rope and several videos on the market that can take you through a workout at whatever level you feel comfortable.

Aside from the basic two-foot jump, there are several other jumping techniques that Kimbrough explains:

  • Figure Eight - Bring the rope out and swing it from side to side without jumping through it. Also called rope turns, this technique allows you to keep your feet on the ground, but get a feel of the rope and the motion. Use this also if your heart rate is up, so that you can stay in motion without jumping up and down.
  • Slalom - Instead of jumping vertically up and down, shift your feet in the air from side to side, as if downhill skiing. You can also keep the rope in your hands and jump from side to side to get a feel for the motion before actually jumping through the rope.
  • Straddle - This is basically the jumping-jack exercise, except with a jump rope. This is more advanced, and also can be learned by swinging the rope at your side before jumping through it.
  • Slow Jump - Cut repetitions in half, elongating the motion. While this is a great training move, it might actually be harder than jumping at a normal pace.

Whatever program you choose, remember that jumping rope can be an intense, high-impact exercise, so be sure to check with your doctor before starting.
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