It's time for your workout, but you haven't seen your mates in a while and also want enjoy what's left of the afternoon spring sun. How, then, do you fit in a workout?
The solution to this age-old problem costs about ten bucks and takes just as many minutes: Get yourself a skipping rope.
As an adult, I realised that the amount of time I spent skipping in primary school P.E. seems wildly disproportionate to the amount of time I've spent skipping since, but in this case, Mr. Ford was on to something.
A famous 1968 study—to the extent that any scientific study of exercise can qualify as famous, I guess—found that after six weeks of daily ten-minute skipping-rope exercises, participants demonstrated the same levels of improvement to their cardiovascular health as individuals who jogged for a half hour each day.
Rope-jumping, the researchers concluded, is a more efficient method of achieving the same results.
Subsequent research has somewhat tempered these expectations, which is probably why running shoes remain a billion-dollar industry and plastic-rope manufacturing does not.
Still, in a pinch, skipping roping is really good for you! From an energy-expenditure perspective, it's roughly the equivalent of running at an twelve-minute/km pace, and it easily outdoes other forms of exercise—including swimming, rowing, and bowling—in terms of calories burned.
It is, in effect, a low-impact plyometric workout that fries the muscles neglected by regular calf raises, and while this won't matter much for the next few weeks, you'll be glad you did it when shorts season finally, mercifully rolls back around. Plus, it can all be done in the tiny space of your balcony.
For a neat, tidy ten-minute workout during the next occasion on which you find yourself pressed for time, clear a little space in your living room and create a miniature interval workout, jumping at high intensity for two minutes, followed by a half minute of rest.
Rinse and repeat three more times. (One-legged and jog-in-place varieties prevent it from getting too repetitive.)