Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Hey Readers! Thank you for checking out this post! Do you remember the feelings of excitement and fun when jumping rope as a kid? I sure do. I also remember my elementary school doing a "Jump Rope for Heart" challenge every year, where each grade-level class competed to see which class jumped for the most minutes, all in an effort to raise awareness and donations for heart disease. I also remember the old-school jump ropes from my elementary school, with the plastic tubes that ran the length of the rope, alternating colors with each piece. Jumping rope was one of the quintessential activities of childhood, at least for me and where I grew up. And for good reason. Jumping rope is a highly effective, challenging, and fun exercise. If you haven't jumped rope in a while, let me warn ya, it can be pretty humbling. Both the coordination and aerobic requirements of jumping rope are no joke, but like any motor task, they improve with practice. In today's blog post, I will go over why you might want to consider adding jump rope intervals to your wellness routine.
Reduces the Risk of Lower Leg Injuries
Jumping rope can increase the strength and resiliency of the lower leg, ankle, and foot muscles. Strength is improved because your lower leg, ankle, and foot muscles must contract sufficiently to propel you off the ground and decelerate effectively so your landing is not too hard against the ground. Resiliency is improved because every time you strike the ground, your feet, ankle, and legs absorb forces from the ground, known as ground reaction force (GRF). Through the practice of jumping rope, your lower legs "learn" how to safely absorb, and transfer, GRF. Improved strength and resiliency allows the lower leg muscles to move with better efficiency during everyday movements, like walking, running, and climbing stairs. And, when you move with better efficiency, your body is less prone to injury and pain.
Improves Your Coordination
Jumping rope is not an easy task because it requires precise control and interaction between your nervous system and all the muscles involved in the action of jumping rope. Your eyes, feet, and hands have to work efficiently with your breath, leg muscles, and trunk muscles. This requires a lot of neuromuscular control because your nervous system and muscles are constantly having to adjust and fine tune each time you land and take off, all while having to continually pay attention to where the jump rope is. This neuromuscular control increases the more you practice jump rope intervals. So, if you are new to jumping rope, don't worry if you are not that "good" at it yet. Your nervous system will learn these new motor patterns over time, which will make your jump rope intervals feel a little easier, at least from a motor planning perspective. And, double bonus - learning new motor patterns is absolutely fabulous for the health of your neural tissues.
Extremely Portable and Relatively Inexpensive
Jump ropes are small enough that you can easily place them in a purse, bag, or suitcase when leaving your home. You could take a jump rope with you to work and sneak in a few minutes of jump rope intervals during your breaks. You could put a jump rope in your suitcase when you are traveling away from home, especially if you might not have access to a gym, fitness studio, or running trails. You could also bring a jump rope with you to your favorite park, using it as part of your workout or while your kiddos play on the playground. Jump ropes are also pretty inexpensive, typically costing between $10 - 20 for a regular jump rope. Of course, like anything, there are some crazy expensive jump ropes out on the market (costing around $60 - 100), but unless you are a professional athlete, you might not need to spend that much on a jump rope.
Major Calorie Burner
Jumping rope is a great way to burn some serious calories. If your fitness goals include weight loss, then you really might want to consider adding jump rope intervals to your workout routine. The amount of calories burned from jumping rope will vary from person to person based on differences in age, size, gender, and metabolic rates. However, it is estimated that an average-sized person burns about 15-20 calories per minute of jumping rope. And, jumping rope appears to burn about 25% more calories per minute than running. Jump rope intervals alone will likely not help you lose weight, as weight loss is ultimately governed by the total amount of calories you consume versus the total amount of calories you burn. However, adding some jump rope intervals to your weekly movement diet will for sure help you on your weight loss journey.
Improves Bone Density
High-impact, weight-bearing exercises are generally good for improving the density of bones, assuming that your body is able to engage in that type of activity. Many sources suggest that jumping rope may be one of the best impact exercises to improve bone density. Although jumping rope can add some stress to the various joints in your body like any other impact, weight-bearing exercise, it is considered a lower-impact exercise than jogging, if done correctly (i.e. staying high on your toes as you jump). Of course check with your doctor before beginning jump rope intervals to be sure that jumping is safe for your body, especially if you have any history of fractures, osteoporosis, or arthritis.
Improves Cardiorespiratory Health
Jumping rope is considered a very effective exercise for improving heart and lung health, particularly when done a few times per week, for several minutes each time. Because jumping rope is a high-intensity, full-body exercise, your heart rate will elevate a good bit when jumping. Your respiratory rate will also increase in order to move oxygen and carbon dioxide around your body to keep up with your working muscles. Increasing your heart rate during exercise is a great way to strengthen the muscles of your heart, and challenging your respiratory system also improves its capacity for oxygen transport and delivery. When your heart and lungs are working optimally, it makes it much easier to perform your activities of daily living, such as cleaning or chasing after kiddos. If you want to read more about the benefits of cardiorespiratory exercise in general, please refer to my previous blog post about this (click here).
There are so many documented benefits from jumping rope, including improvements with coordination, bone density, cardiorespiratory health, lower-leg mechanics, and weight loss. There are so many ways to incorporate jump rope intervals into your weekly wellness routine. For me, I do jump rope intervals as part of a circuit when I do my SAQ (i.e. speed, agility, quickness) ladder drills (i.e. using an agility ladder). I run through my various SAQ drills (to be discussed in a future blog post) and then jump rope for 30 seconds, followed by 10 squat jumps, and then 60 seconds of rest before I go through the circuit again. And y'all, I'm gonna be real honest, about 15 minutes of this workout is plenty for my body! Believe it or not, even just 30 seconds of jumping rope is TOUGH! You obviously do not need to jump rope in the same way that I do. Find a system that works for your workout routine, body, and fitness goals. If you have not jumped rope in a long time, start easy. Maybe jump for 10 seconds, rest for a minute, and try another 10 seconds. Or, maybe try a few simple jumps without the rope in order to build up some stamina first. Above all, listen to your body, adjust when you need to, and HAVE FUN! Don't take yourself too seriously, especially if you find that you are not quite coordinated enough to use the jump rope. You will get better at it over time if you just keep trying. So, head to your local sporting goods store, or check out online retailers, and get yourself a jump rope. Happy jumping friends! Thanks for reading!
As always, the information presented in this blog post is derived from my own study of neuroscience, human movement, anatomy, and yoga. If you have specific questions about beginning a jump rope routine, please consult with your physician, physical therapist, personal trainer, or private yoga teacher. If you are interested in private yoga sessions with me, Jackie, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about my services. Also, please subscribe to my website so you can receive my weekly newsletters (scroll to the bottom of the page where you can submit your email address). This will help keep you "in-the-know" about my latest blog releases and other helpful yoga and wellness information. Thanks for reading!
~Namaste, Jackie Allen, M.S., M.Ed., CCC-SLP, RYT-200, RCYT, NASM-CPT
McCall, P. (2017). 7 Benefits of Jumping Rope. ACE. Article link here.
Hogan, M.K. (n.d.). 9 Benefits of Jumping Rope You Probably Don't Know. Lifehack. Article link here.
Skarnulis, L (n.d.). Skipping Rope Doesn't Skip Workout. WebMD. Article link here.
Watson, K. (2019). Balanced Workout Routine with Jump Rope can Help You Lose Weight. Healthline. Article link here.