Got $20? Spend it on a jump rope. It may be one of the most sound investments you’ll ever make in your health and well-being: A portable, all-weather gym that will strengthen your bones and even make you a better dancer. Read on to learn why this favorite of boxers and little girls should become a part of your daily routine.
For most guys, jumping rope at a moderate pace will burn between 700 and 1,000 calories per hour. That’s significantly more than jogging but with lower impact on the joints. Don’t think you have the time or the stamina for a 60-minute session? Just two 10-minute sessions per day expends 1,000 calories per week. If you incorporate rope jumping as a warm-up to your regular workouts, you’ll burn significantly more calories during weight lifting or interval training.
Beyond efficiently burning calories, committed practitioners of jumping rope enjoy a host of other health benefits, including a stronger heart, increased lung capacity, plus greatly improved balance, reflexes, posture and hand-eye coordination. Studies have also shown that over the long term, jumping rope slows the rate of bone loss and provides protection against osteoporosis. According to The New York Times, “in studies in Japan, having mice jump up and land 40 times during a week increased their bone density significantly after 24 weeks, a gain they maintained by hopping up and down only about 20 or 30 times each week after that.” Furthermore, jumping rope will also save you time in the weight room: Pushing yourself away from the earth’s gravitational pull thousands of times is a great way to tackle the scourge of skinny calf muscles and hamstrings.
Having a jump rope handy means that you don’t have to forgo a decent workout when the mercury drops, or you’ve forgotten your sneakers, or you’re in some godforsaken hotel miles from anywhere conducive to running. Just find some space — ideally, 10 feet of overhead space and an area of four-by-six feet — and you’re good to go. You can even zone out in front of the TV as you elevate your heart rate. Lightweight and easy to whip out anywhere, a vinyl jump rope is a great way to work out when traveling.
Unlike most cardiovascular exercise, jumping rope is a skill. Although it can be frustrating at first, you’ll be working the rope like Apollo Creed before you know it. First, get the right rope. If you’re between five-foot-four and five-ten, get yourself a nine-foot rope. If you’re between five-ten and six-five, make it a 10-footer. There are several types of ropes on the market, but try a beaded one first. They’re easier to control and will hold their shape better than vinyl or cloth. ($20 ought to do it; no piece of fitness equipment gives you more bang for your buck.) Start with a marching tempo and work your way up. Aim to jump 1 or 2 inches off the floor, landing on the balls of the feet. Take some time to build your stamina and speed. Then you can vary your workout to better target your core, or incorporate interval training that will produce HGH and speed fat loss. Explore the difference in feeling and results with a weighted rope vs. a speed rope. Search YouTube for different routines — most involve around ten minutes of alternating rope time and traditional calisthenics. Last, make sure you hang up your rope post-workout; tangled or kinked ropes are more difficult to spin.
In addition to improving coordination, jumping rope also increases your strength in the muscles surrounding your ankle joint and in your foot, decreasing the chance of injury to those areas. According to the Jump Rope Institute, “jumping rope teaches players to stay on the balls of their feet, as opposed to being flat-footed or on their heels. And since you are on your toes the entire time you jump rope, you will find that staying quiet on your toes when playing tennis will become easier and second nature.”