Ah the jump rope. Hearing the name likely takes you back to your days as a rambunctious kid, scampering about on school grounds at lunchtime and between classes getting up to all kinds of shenanigans. The jump rope was a tool for the over-energized youth, specifically the younger girls on the tennis court during recess, and when you were made to do it over and over during gym class.
Lately, you may have seen the odd gym-hulk whipping away over in the corner and distracting you from your magazine on the treadmill or bike. You probably passed it off as simply a cry for attention or perhaps thought that said hulk should at least take up boxing to go along with the whole jump-rope act.
Well, it turns out that your childhood self and that muscular beast over in the corner of the gym were both onto something. Using a jump rope can be an excellent workout, often providing greater health benefits than simply going for a run or bike ride. Here are nine reasons why you need to reconnect with your six-year-old self and get yourself a jump rope:
It burns calories like crazy
Few other exercises stand up to the calorie-burning power of the jump rope. According to studies, every jump burns around 0.1 calorie, therefore jumping at a moderate pace can burn between 10 and 16 calories per minute. According to one source, jumping rope offers you the potential to burn up to 1,300 calories per hour of vigorous activity. While you probably won’t last that long, even 30 minutes of solid jumping will have you burning far more calories than a long run.
It increases bone density
According to Dr. Daniel W. Barry, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, the best exercise or movement to improve bone density is the simple act of jumping up and down. Barry, who specializes in the study of bones in athletes and the elderly, believes that jumping for a short period of time can do wonders for your bones, provided you don’t have a history of bone fractures or propensity for osteoporosis.
It strengthens your feet and ankles
If you’re into sports that place a lot of strain on your feet or ankles, jumping rope could be just the thing you need to prevent future injuries. People who play sports such as basketball, tennis, football or soccer often suffer injuries to their feet and ankles due to high-speed direction changes, which places extreme pressure on ligaments and muscles.
Regularly using the jump rope helps to strengthen the muscles surrounding your ankle joint and in your foot, thereby decreasing your chances of injuring them while playing other sports. Jumping rope also teaches regular users to stay on the balls of their feet, as opposed to favoring a flat-footed stance or placing excessive pressure on their heels. This in turn can help to improve agility on the field or court and decrease the chance of injury.
It improves coordination
By forcing you to focus on the movement of your feet and arms, using the jump rope helps to improve your powers of coordination. The repeated action of jumping up and down, balancing and then springing from your toes, imprints this motion in your brain and makes you permanently more nimble on your feet. This explains why boxers are always so quick to throw off their sweaty gloves and do a few rounds with the jump rope — it improves their footwork and makes them more coordinated in the ring.
It helps mental function
It’s a well-known fact that just a short 20-minute burst of exercise can improve brain function. What most people don’t know, however, is that exercise that imposes significant physical and mental demands has a far higher impact on positive cognitive function than simple exercise like jogging or using a stationary bike. Exercises that provide this simultaneous physical and mental challenge include choreographed dancing or (funnily enough) jumping rope. For an added brainpower boost, try mixing in some complicated tricks the next time you bust out your jump rope.
It’s mobile and fun
Because it’s thin, light and folds up small, you can take your jump rope anywhere with you. Use it as an effective warm-up and muscle stretch before sports games, use it to re-energize your body and mind during lunch at work, or use it as a cool-down after intense exercise. If you ever get tired or bored with it, mix it up with different tricks and techniques.
It improves cardiovascular health
The American College of Sports Medicine highly recommends jumping rope for aerobic conditioning due to its intense calorie-killing and heart-racing abilities. Using your jump rope between three and five times a week for a minimum of 12 minutes at a time can dramatically improve both your heart and lung health.
It has kept up with the times
The humble jump rope has come a long way from the beaded ropes back in your school days. Today’s jump ropes come equipped with ball-bearing handles, low-friction cables and easy re-sizing options. You can even purchase “smart” jump ropes, which automatically count the number of jumps for you.
It relaxes you
Those who use the jump rope typically report feeling calmer than before they started. This phenomenon has been attributed to the composite movement combining a circular motion with angular momentum. According to the Jump Rope Institute, it is this harmonious coordination between body and rope that provides a relaxing effect on your post-workout body and mind.
Still not convinced that the jump rope is for you? Try it out for a week and see what you think! They’re super cheap to buy, or most gyms supply them free of charge if you have a membership. You might be surprised by the results!
Liivi is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and is training to become a doula. She inspires women to find peace and personal power by taking control of health and fertility naturally. Liivi‘s passion is ancestral nutrition and primal lifestyle design. She and her partner Will live between Toronto, Canada and Queenstown, New Zealand.