Medical doctors and fitness experts consider jump roping an affordable and simple cardiovascular workout that improves conditioning, balance and coordination. Overall, the experts we consulted agree that jump roping offers cardio health benefits and allows you to torch plenty of calories in a relatively short amount of time and with fitness equipment that’s relatively affordable.

“Jump roping is extremely effective at burning fat, particularly at our core,” explained Roy Oommen, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon (specializing in heart and chest surgery). He told us that jump roping “is all that is needed for a great workout.” The nonprofit American Heart Association recommends adults partake in 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, like jump roping, each week. In fact, jump roping burns approximately 15 to 20 calories per minute, according to board-certified orthopedic surgeon Marc S. Kowalsky, MD — and online calculators from Calories Burned HQ and ACE Fitness can even help you gauge how many calories you burn specifically while jump roping.

How to shop for jump ropes, according to fitness experts

The two most important factors of a jump rope are its length and weight, according to John Gallucci, Jr., CEO of JAG-ONE Physical Therapy.

Length

Use a jump rope that is 3 feet longer than your height, advised Gallucci, the former head athletic trainer of the New York Red Bulls MLS team. Step on the middle of the jump rope and pull it taut, and the point at which the cable meets each handle should hit around the breast on your upper chest.

Weight

You also have the choice of three types of jump ropes: basic, weighted and speed.

  • A basic jump rope is ideal for beginners because the cable is “a little thicker and allows for a better grip,” noted Gallucci.
  • A weighted jump rope carries additional weight in the handles, the cable or both and is best suited for advanced jump ropers or those looking to improve their strength-training.
  • A speed jump rope is thin and light, and a good match for those who like to jump at a fast pace and “a great way to improve footwork and conditioning,” said trainer and health coach Bec Donlan.

Best jump ropes of 2021

You can find jump ropes at Shopping reader-favorite retailers like Walmart, Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods — you can find affordable and highly rated jump ropes for $4. The experts we consulted shared with us their recommendations across price points and use cases.

Crossrope Lean Jump Rope Set

Roy and Donlan are both fans of Crossrope’s Lean smart jump rope, which can sync with Apple Health and Google Fit. The brand also has its own smartphone app where you can stream workout videos and partake in fitness challenges, Roy pointed out. You also have the ability to swap out the handles to upgrade your jump rope from Light (0.25 pounds) to Heavy (0.5 pounds). Roy also appreciates the ergonomic, texturized handles and finds the jump rope doesn’t tangle like others. It boasts a 4.8-star average rating from 2,990 reviews on Amazon.

EliteSRS Jump Rope

This is Gallucci’s favorite jump rope for beginners since it helps users “get a feel for the rhythm of jumping and how to do it properly.” He noted the weighted jump rope is great for engaging arm muscles. It earned a 4.3-star average rating from nearly 250 reviews on Amazon.

Lifeline Jump Rope

Gallucci also recommended Lifeline’s speed jump rope for those who want “a killer workout” and to “go at maximum speed and build endurance.” It weighs just 0.75 pounds and received a 4-star average rating from more than 150 reviews on Amazon.

EliteSRS Beginner Jump Rope

One highly-rated PVC jump rope worth considering is from EliteSRS. It has a 4.4-star average from more than 330 reviews on Amazon and is height-adjustable. After measuring the correct height, pull part of the 10-foot cord through one of the handles, release the attached lock and once you have the right length, snap the lock back in place (and use scissors to snip any excess cord poking out). The jump rope is available in six colorways, ranging from Pink/Purple to Silver/White.

DEGOL Jump Rope

This jump rope is the No. 1 bestseller on Amazon and it boasts a 4.3-star average rating from more than 35,200 reviews. The 9-foot jump rope is height adjustable and covered with PVC that’s designed to help prevent floor damage. It also features ergonomic memory foam handles.

Jump roping tips from a fitness expert

Morten Mueller, a performance coach at personal training service Future, said two of the most common mistakes his clients make with jump roping are overexerting themselves and jumping too high. “The rope is all about rhythm and coordination for sustained periods. If we jump too high, we will have a hard time replicating the almost same technique over and over again and might even have to stop early,” he said. Mueller noted that jumping too high also limits the cardio benefits of jump roping and can cause joint stress to your lower body. “Think rhythm first, duration second and height last.”

Mueller also shared three simple steps to help you get started with jump roping:

  1. Before reaching for a jump rope, start by pretending the jump rope handles are in your hands right next to your hips, and bounce up and down just a few inches over the floor.
  2. Once you find a comfortable rhythm and can maintain the motion for at least 30 seconds, grab both handles of the jump rope in one hand and combine the bouncing with swinging the rope by your side. His biggest tip is that your wrist controls the movement rather than your arm or forearm.
  3. Once you master the swing and jumps for at least another 30 seconds, you are ready to jump through the rope. “Always remember to never sacrifice rhythm for the duration or height of jumps,” he said.

Catch up on the latest from NBC News Shopping guides and recommendations and download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.