You’ve had a hectic day with no time to get to the gym. But boy, are you craving a workout—even a short one. We’ve got the perfect solution for you. It’s jumping rope—and we don’t mean fooling around with a kid’s toy. When performed correctly, jumping rope is one of the best fat-burning and weight-loss tools around for both men and women. It improves cardiovascular health…strengthens bones…and tones the hips and thighs. It even is a workout used by professional athletes as a conditioning tool. Best of all, it requires nothing more than an adult-sized jump rope, available at most sporting-goods stores, and a tiny bit of free floor space.

Many adults shy away from jumping rope because they say the up-and-down motion is uncomfortable and leaves them feeling rattled. But the truth is, almost everyone can jump rope without that uncomfortable feeling—you just have to read these tips from Edward Jackowski, PhD, CEO and founder of Exude, a fitness company based in New York City, and author of Jump Into Fitness: The Ultimate Jump Rope Workout. He told me that while jumping rope is generally safe for all ages and body types, many people start off too aggressively, which can lead to injuries. Here’s how to ease in gradually…

Get used to the feeling of jumping (without the rope). The key is to jump only one inch off the ground, landing gently on the balls of your feet. People often think that they need to jump much higher—and that’s what makes them feel uncomfortably jostled. When you keep your jumps low, you challenge your quadriceps muscles, which is what you want to do, without putting stress on your knees as higher jumping might do. Once you can comfortably jump about 10 times in a row, add the rope.

Make sure the rope is the right length. When you stand on the center of the rope with your feet together, the handles should come up to your armpits if you extend both sides of the rope. If the rope is too long, tie knots near the handles.

Be equipped. Wear a good pair of “cross training” athletic shoes, which provide support for both forward and lateral movement. (These are better for jumping rope than running shoes or walking shoes.) Jump on a forgiving surface, such as short grass outdoors or a wooden floor indoors. Avoid carpeting (the rope could get caught in it) or very hard surfaces, such as asphalt or concrete.

Learn the basic jump. Hold the handles of the rope out in front of you, with the rope behind you. Keeping your arms at your sides and your elbows down, make a circular motion with your forearms so the rope comes up behind you…over your head…and then strikes the floor in front of you. Jump only one inch off the ground, landing gently on the balls of your feel with each rotation of the rope. Make sure to jump only once per rotation—don’t double jump, where you do two quick jumps for each rope rotation.

Practice. Keep practicing until you can turn the rope 100 times. Then increase the duration of your routine gradually by adding increments of 25 jumps until you reach 200 turns. If you prefer, you can time yourself to reach durations of about 10 minutes. You can sprinkle in two to three 10-minute jump rope workouts into your regular exercise routine—or just grab the rope when you have 10 minutes to spare. Do it two to three times a day—and you’ve got yourself a workout-on-the-go!

To find out more about the benefits of jumping rope, watch Edward Jackowski on YouTube here