By Nicole Zhao
For many, jumping rope evokes many nostalgic feelings. Orange plastic jump ropes were the hallmark of elementary school recess. While jumping rope is often associated with days of primary school, it can also be a great form of cardiovascular exercise. Running, cycling, and swimming are all great cardiovascular workouts, and there are many who find these an enjoyable and integral part of their exercise routines. Jumping rope offers a new choice, whether it be for runners who are looking for a variation in their routines or the average Joe who is looking for a place to get started. It can be used as a substitute or a great addition to people’s workouts.
Just like any other form of cardiovascular exercise, jumping rope offers the benefits of improved heart and pulmonary health, strengthening of the upper and lower body, maintaining bone density, injury prevention, and more. As a high intensity cardio workout, it burns a lot of calories. Based on the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities, jumping rope at a moderate pace has an equivalent MET (a measure of energy expenditure) to running at 7 mph (approximately 8.5 min/mile). Jump rope also improves control and balance; after all, you need to coordinate your body and maintain good timing to ensure a successful jump. An advantage of jumping rope is that it is stationary and portable, so you can perform it in places like your garage or backyard. Especially during the pandemic, having a stationary form of cardio is certainly an attractive option. Otherwise, other stationary counterparts, such as an elliptical or treadmill, can be very expensive. A jump rope can easily cost under 10. or even 5 dollars. Jumping rope can also be very fun, and there is a world of different variations and tricks out there (double-unders, criss-crosses, heel taps, etc).
There are definitely downsides to jump rope. First is the barrier to entry. As someone who grew up playing handball and not skipping rope, I looked like a klutz trying to jump for the first few weeks. Unlike running, jumping rope may take some time to get started. However, I can assure you that the process is faster than you think and is a gratifying experience. Another disadvantage of jump rope is that it may not be the best option for those who are recovering from joint injuries or have weak knees and ankles. While it is less stressful on the joints than running, it still puts some pressure on areas such as the knees and ankles. Despite this, jumping rope is still a relatively low impact exercise, given that you land on the balls of your feet and stay within control. Although, I must mention that accidentally smacking your face does hurt (Ouch.) Like any form of exercise, it is definitely recommended to check with a doctor or specialist if you have any pre-existing conditions.
I started jumping rope due to the constraints offered during the pandemic. I personally wasn’t a fan of running with a mask on, and I did not want to be outside without a mask, so I decided to try out the friendly PVC jump rope I picked up from Amazon. Despite some highly constructive criticism (and several laughs) from my parents who watched me struggle trying to get the rope under my feet, it as an enlightening journey. I found myself enjoying exercise and trying out new tricks from the Internet. It offered the benefits of exercise, and I could easily perform it in my garage. There are plenty of resources on the vast world of the Internet, so it is easy to get started on different workout options and beginner jumping variations. For those looking for more advanced tricks, there are just as many resources out there.
This isn’t an advocation for jump rope to replace other forms of cardio, especially for die-hard runners or swimmers who are very comfortable with their chosen exercise. Instead, I want to offer an addition to potentially diversify people’s workout routines, encourage people to get started on regular exercise, or pose an option for those looking outside the trifecta of running, cycling, and swimming. Give it a shot and start skipping!