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Two inexpensive ways of improving your cardiovascular fitness while burning calories is by jumping rope or climbing stairs. Neither activity requires expensive equipment or a gym membership. They also can be done almost anywhere, so they are easy to incorporate into your daily routine. As with all forms of exercise, it's important to consult a physician before beginning any type of exercise activity.
Jumping Rope Basics
Beginners should use a beaded rope for better control; this type also holds its shape better than a vinyl rope. Before you start jumping, make sure the rope is the right length by holding the handles, stepping on the rope and stretching it out to its full length. The handles should reach your armpits; if the length is higher or lower than this level, adjust the length. Wear form-fitting athletic shoes, such as cross-trainers, while jumping rope. Wood floors are an ideal jumping surface and avoid jumping on carpet that can grab your shoes. Jump in a space that is approximately 4-by-6 feet in size.
Benefits of Jumping Rope
According to Cardiology and Pulmonary Medicine professor Dr. Peter Schulman, jumping rope burns many calories in a short period of time. It also provides aerobic benefits that increase your heart health and is a good way to add variety to your exercise routine. Despite adding direct stress to the hips, knees and ankles, jumping rope is a lower-impact activity than jogging when performed properly. Physical education teacher Roger Crozier finds that jumping rope can also benefit your brain by forcing greater body awareness during the activity. To get the most of your workout, he suggests that you jump no higher than an inch off the ground and stay high on your toes.
According to Canada's StairClimbing Association, the position of the foot during stair-climbing affects different muscles. For example, when moving to a higher step, pushing with the heel of the foot contracts muscles in the back of the upper leg and backside. Pushing off with the toe instead causes a greater muscle contraction in the front upper leg. Upper body movement is also important in developing good form, and a strong core and strong arms help drive the body in an upward direction during a climb.
Benefits of Stair-Climbing
Stair-climbing is a vigorous activity that usually takes place in a short amount of time, providing you with more health benefits in less time. Cedric Bryant of the American Council on Exercise says that moderate stair-climbing can burn five calories a minute for a 120-pound person, seven calories for a 150-pound person and nine calories for a 180-pound person. If you choose to run up the stairs, the cardiovascular benefit increases even more, and you'll experience greater caloric burn. Because of the vertical movement involved, stair-climbing burns more calories and has a lower impact on knees and feet than running. To minimize injury, some stair-climbers also use an elevator to descend to the bottom of a staircase.