By C.J. Hammond
The pandemic lockdown has forced all of us to get creative with our fitness choices. With gyms under lock and key, we’ve had to make do with the workout equipment we’ve got at home. When it comes to cardio, that means running, plyometrics (think box jumps), or . . . what? How about jumping rope? While many people dismiss rope jumping as the domain of pre-teen girls and pro boxers, the reality is that this is one of the most beneficial cardio exercises that exist. In this article, we bring to light the not-so-secret benefits of jumping rope.
Jumping rope burns a ton of calories. In fact, just ten minutes of rope jumping will burn more calories than thirty minutes of jogging. If you could maintain the activity for an hour, you would be able to burn as many as 1,300 calories. That works out to about one-tenth of a calorie per jump.
In addition to the cardio burn that you get when you are doing your jump rope workout, intense jumping also produces what is known as the EPOC effect. EPOC stands for “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.” The intense demands of the workout will require your body to take in more oxygen for up to twenty-four hours after the workout. This increases your calorie burn by around six percent during that entire period of time.
Research conducted by the Jump Rope Institute suggests that jumping rope can benefit the development of both hemispheres of the brain. The coordination, balance, and agility required to sustain rope jumping requires the mind and body to work in unison. The neural muscular adjustments that are constantly required as you control the rope and your body’s reaction to it enhances spatial awareness.
Jumping rope also demands a measure of cognitive strategy as you are forced to make lightning mental adjustments to account for the changing movement of the rope in relation to your body.
One study showed that regular cardio exercise, such as rope jumping, encourages the production of growth-inducing hormones in the brain that promote the development of neural connections. This supports memory and learning.
Jumping rope is one of the least prohibitive forms of cardio exercise. You can pick up a perfectly good rope for under twenty dollars. That’s all you need for years of excellent aerobic exercise.
Rope jumping is one of the most intense aerobic workouts you will ever encounter. It will quickly elevate your heart rate, making your heart and lungs work harder to supply oxygen to the various parts of your body. As a result, you will strengthen your heart muscles and improve your cardiovascular health.
When you’re exercising with a jump rope, you control the intensity of the work that you do. This allows you to sustain a workout through periods of intense skipping followed by lighter recovery periods. This is a great way to build up cardiovascular endurance.
Working out with weights in the gym can strengthen and increase the size of your leg muscles. However, it can also make those muscles tight. This is especially true of the calf muscles. Tight calves can lead to injury when you are performing functional exercises like running.
When you jump rope, you not only build and strengthen the calves, but you also increase the elasticity of the tendons and fascia which makes the calf muscles more flexible. To maximally stretch the calves while jumping rope, try to land on the balls of your feet and then bring the heel down to the ground.
As we’ve seen, jumping rope is a great standalone exercise. However, it’s also able to boost the effectiveness of other exercises. You can easily incorporate it as part of a circuit training program to allow you to go from muscular to cardio movements in quick succession.
You can get a great overall workout at home by doing bodyweight exercises and then jumping rope for thirty to sixty seconds. For example, you could pump out thirty seconds of push-ups, then jump rope for thirty seconds. Without rest, go to mountain climbers for another half a minute and then back to rope jumping. Continue with this pattern to complete five or six bodyweight moves, and you will have completed an extremely intense workout for both your aerobic and anaerobic systems.
While it is primarily a cardiovascular exercise, jumping rope also provides an effective workout for your muscles. The calves are the primary muscle group that is stimulated but the rope action also works your deltoids and forearms. Your quadriceps will also get a workout from the constant jumping action. Even your core will be activated as you keep it rigid throughout the workout.
The low cost and small size of a jump rope make it an ideal anytime cardio workout option. You can carry your rope in your pocket and use it anywhere that you have about ten feet of ceiling clearance. That makes it a perfect exercise choice when you are faced with an emergency situation, such as a lockdown!
Jumping rope provides the best return for your exercise time investment. The benefits are clear. It deserves to be part of your routine, whether you are in a lockdown situation or not. Why not use this time to discover the many benefits of rope jumping for yourself? By the time we come out of this pandemic, it will be a regular part of your workout regimen.