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10 Reasons to Start Jumping Rope Again (Psst...It's Really Good for You)

Prevention logo Prevention 12/2/2021 Korin Miller
Jumping rope has lots of health benefits—and, for starters, it's an easy cardio routine to pick up and do anywhere. Here's your answer to whether jumping rope is good for you (it is!) and why experts recommend it. © Crispin la valiente - Getty Images Jumping rope has lots of health benefits—and, for starters, it's an easy cardio routine to pick up and do anywhere. Here's your answer to whether jumping rope is good for you (it is!) and why experts recommend it.

Jumping rope is one of those exercises you probably got really into as a child, and then promptly forgot about when you got older. But jumping rope isn’t just for kids—it’s a great workout that you can do at any age.

Many gyms will have at least one jump rope hanging around, and several celebrities—including Kaley Cuoco, Padma Lakshmi, and Jennifer Garner—have shared videos on Instagram of themselves showing off some impressive jump roping skills.

Jumping rope allows you get in a good cardio workout while also working on lower-body strength training, says Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab, Promix Nutrition, and ARENA. You can make your legs burn, torch calories, and get all sweaty, just by using something you considered a toy as a kid, he points out.

But jumping rope is also easily accessible, given that most people can shell out a few dollars for a rope. It also doesn’t require any fancy equipment or training to perfect your technique.

And, while a jump rope doesn’t look like much, it’s surprisingly versatile, allowing you do to a range of exercises from running jumps to HIIT workouts, Matheny says.

But one of the biggest perks of jumping rope—especially these days—is that you can easily do it at home. That’s a huge pro at a time when plenty of people are still wary of going to the gym.

“Pretty much anybody can jump rope,” says Irvin Sulapas, M.D., assistant professor of sports medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine. However, he adds, anyone with ongoing lower joint issues should hold off. Doug Sklar, a certified personal trainer and founder of PhilanthroFIT in New York City, agrees. “Anyone with healthy joints can give it a try,” he says.

Want to get into jumping rope? Here’s how to get started—and why it’s so good for you.

How to jump rope

While many people picked this up as a kid, not everyone was once an avid jump roper. Here’s how to jump rope, per Matheny:

  • Hold the end of a jump rope in each hand, with the rope’s loop resting on the ground behind you.
  • Swing the rope over your head and around your body.
  • Jump as it passes under your feet.
  • Repeat.

Note: You can also jump rope backwards, but most people prefer to see the rope as it comes over their head to lower the risk of tripping.

What’s the best jumping rope form?

“It starts with a properly-sized rope,” Sklar says. “Standing on the center of the rope, the end of the rope should be at armpit height.” Pro tip: If your jump rope is too long, you can add knots underneath the handles to adjust the length.

When actually jumping rope, you’ll want to have your knees slightly bend, with your upper arms close to your ribs, he says. “Most of the movement should come from the wrists with minimal elbow and shoulder movement,” Sklar advises. “Avoid making large arm circles.”

After you jump, “land on the balls of your feet and keep your knees slightly bent,” Matheny says. This, he explains, “helps absorb some of the impact of landing.”

The benefits of jumping rope


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There are a lot of potential benefits of jumping rope, but experts say these are the biggies:

It makes working out fun.

Jumping rope is naturally associated with childhood and that innately can make it feel fun and different from logging time on a treadmill or bike, Sklar says. “Jumping rope creates a challenge for kids and adults alike,” he says. “Once you've mastered the basics, there are always new challenges and ways to get creative.”

It gets your heart rate up quickly.

Jumping rope is a high-intensity activity, Dr. Sulapas points out—and that can cause your heart rate to jump up quickly. “Your whole body is involved,” Sklar says, “so once you get moving, your heart has to work hard to keep you going.”

It’s easy cardio.

Jumping rope gives you a lot of bang for your cardio buck. “If you’re jumping rope at any speed for 30 seconds, you’re going to start to feel it,” Matheny says. “There’s a lot of coordination between different muscle groups.”

Worth noting: Jumping rope can actually cut down on the overall amount of time you have to log for a workout to stay healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers vigorous exercises like jumping rope to be about twice as efficient as moderate-intensity activities. So, if your main form of exercise is jumping rope, you technically only need to log 75 minutes of workouts a week (along with muscle-strengthening exercises) compared to something more moderate, like brisk walking.

It builds bone density.

There are a few things that jumping rope does to help build your bone density. “Jumping rope helps strengthen the bone density by strengthening the muscles around the bones, specifically the legs,” Dr. Sulapas says. “Building stronger muscles, in turn, helps build stronger bones in general, and jump roping can do that.” But the actual impact that comes from jumping (or, more specifically, landing) also helps strengthen your bones, Matheny says. “Your body in any area responds to stress,” he explains. “If you’re putting small amounts stress on your bones, they will become more resilient and either build the density, if you’re younger, or help you maintain it, if you’re older.”

Why does this matter? It can help lower your risk of developing conditions like osteoporosis as you age.

It can be an efficient warm-up.

Like the idea of jumping rope but aren’t sold on it being the main event? “It can serve as a warm-up,” says Judith Deutsch, P.T., Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Sciences at the Rutgers School of Health Professions.

She points to a “really interesting” study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance that had 96 endurance runners either replace five minutes of their usual warm-up with jumping rope or keep it the same. After 10 weeks, the researchers found that the rope-jumping group had double the increase in 3K time trial performance than the control group.

It’s really versatile.

Matheny points out that you only get as much out of jumping rope as you put into it—and you can build on it as you get better and more experienced with it. “It’s good to make these workouts goal-based,” he says. “If you’re new, that can mean hitting a certain number of jumps in a row.” You can also do workouts with 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off, along with including jumping rope in circuit training workouts, he says. “It’s a great thing to throw into your fitness routine,” Matheny adds.

It’s easy to do when you travel.

Sklar calls a jump rope “one of the easiest pieces of exercise equipment to take on vacation because of the small size, light weight, and portability.” Once you get to your destination, you can either jump rope in the place where you’re staying or take it outside for an outdoor workout, Matheny says. “It’s so portable,” he adds.

It improves coordination and agility.

You have to pay attention when you jump rope and learning to jump over that rope in time with the rhythm you have going on will improve your coordination and agility, Dr. Sulapas says. “Jump roping takes a lot of coordination in a rhythmic cadence,” he says. “Jumping over a rope in a repetitive pattern can improve footwork patterns and overall hand-eye coordination.”

It helps with balance.

You have to be able to stay upright when you jump rope and keep your core fairly strong, Matheny says. You also need to keep your balance in check between each jump, he points out. As a result, it helps improve your overall balance.

It gives you more explosive power.

Jumping rope—especially at faster speeds—is all about explosive power, Matheny says. That is, the ability to quickly jump up, recover, and do it again. Perfecting your explosive power with jumping rope can help you in other situations, like doing sprints, he says.

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