How It Works
If you haven’t picked up a jump rope since your school days, you’re in for a surprise. Jumping rope packs the same intensity as an 8-minute-mile run or a 20-mile-per-hour bike ride.
There’s a reason why Rihanna swears by her jump rope -- 10 minutes of swinging that rope can burn about 140 calories!
Most “jump rope workouts” are about 10 to 20 minutes long, and you may not even be able to last that long at first. That may not sound like much, but by the time you’re done, you’ll be a believer.
Because jumping rope gives you such an intense workout in such a short time, and needs so little equipment, it’s easy to work into a busy schedule and to take on the road with you when you travel.
Intensity Level: High
It may look like a playground game, but jumping rope will quickly push your heart rate to a high level.
Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. Keeping good posture while jumping challenges your core.
Arms: Yes. You’re not lifting weights, but the constant rope swinging challenges your arms. It especially works muscles in your hands, wrists, and elbows.
Legs: Yes. Jumping rope is an excellent way to build leg strength and power.
Glutes: Yes. Anytime you’re jumping, you’re using your glutes!
Back: Yes. You use your back muscles to keep a stable posture for jumping.
Flexibility: Yes. By combining different upper and lower body movements, jumping rope improves your flexibility.
Aerobic: Definitely! Your heart rate will soar with this one.
Strength: Yes. Jumping rope is particularly good for lower-body strength, but it also challenges your arms.
Low-Impact: No. Jumping rope puts stress on the joints in your legs.
What Else Should I Know?
Cost: Jumping rope is about the least expensive workout around. You can buy a good jump rope for $15 or less.
Good for beginners? Totally perfect! You can even “shadow jump”-- make the motions of jumping rope without the actual rope. As you improve, you can pick up the pace, get creative, and try new jump moves like the skier jump and the front crossover jump.
Outdoors: Yes. Try to avoid jumping rope on a hard surface like concrete. Instead, choose a grassy space or put down an exercise mat.
At home: Absolutely! You just need a few feet of clearance around you and above your head.
Equipment required? All you need is the rope and a pair of comfortable shoes! The American Council on Exercise recommends a lightweight rope with a foam grip, so it won’t slip when the sweat starts flowing.
What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
Jumping rope is a great way to get in touch with your inner child while strengthening your heart and muscles. It is easy to do, can be done anywhere, and you don't need expensive equipment or gym fees. It’s great for cardio and works all your major muscle groups. Even your core will feel the challenge. Best of all, you can tailor the intensity of the workout to your own needs.
Use it as a supplement to your other fitness plans so that you don’t become bored. It can also be a great add-on for travel or rainy days.
If you are someone who enjoys working out with other people, then don’t look to jumping rope as your main workout, unless you want to play some “double-dutch” with your friends.
Check with your doctor before starting this or any other fitness routine if you aren't active now or have any medical problems. If you are prone to foot or ankle problems, be careful.
Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?
Jumping rope is a great way to burn calories and build muscle. If you have diabetes, it can even help control your blood sugar as you shed those extra pounds. If your cholesterol or blood pressure is a bit too high, you can jump your way to better numbers.
Even if you already have heart disease, you might be able to use jumping rope as part of your fitness plan. But check with your doctor first to see how intense your workout should be.
If you are pregnant and have been jumping rope, you can likely continue on for a while as long as you don’t have any problems with your pregnancy. But as your belly grows, you will need to find an activity that places less stress on your hips, knees, ankles, and feet.