Old-time boxers knew what they were doing. According to the Compendium of Physical Studies, jumping rope for 10 minutes can burn as many calories as jogging at an eight-minute-per-mile pace. No wonder many fitness experts call the jump rope the best all-around piece of exercise equipment you can own. Here are five reasons to learn the ropes:

1.) Cost. Unlike a treadmill, elliptical, or other high-tech cardio machine, jump ropes sell for about $15, and a good one should last for years — if not decades.

2.) Portability. You can take it anywhere and use it indoors or out.

3.) Strength gain. Jumping builds bone-mineral density and improves total-body power. Athletes have used it to improve their vertical jump height.

4.) Improved coordination. The jump rope forces you to keep a rhythmic pace and use proper form, otherwise you trip.

5.) Fat loss. Jumping rope involves nearly every muscle. Some people report that it's the only cardio they need to lose fat.

This beginner's routine will jump-start your conditioning

Jump for 30 reps swinging the rope forward. If you trip up, it's OK, just continue until you hit 30. Rest 30 seconds, and then do another 30 reps, swinging the rope backward. (Hint: it's harder.) Rest again. That's one set. Perform four to eight sets depending on your endurance. If you have never jumped rope before or haven't for a while, imitate a jump-rope workout for a few days—pretend you're using a rope and rotate your wrists in time with your jumps. It may feel silly, but you'll learn timing and condition your body to use the rope.