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10 Jump Rope Benefits You Won’t Want To Skip

Hop to it.

Headshot of Erin BunchBy Erin Bunch
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Skipping rope may once have been seen mainly as a pastime for schoolgirls, but there’s a good reason—or more accurately, several good reasons—it’s also a fav training tool for boxers. “They've used it for a long time for strength, balance, and cardiovascular exercise,” says William Roberts, MD, director of the Sports Medicine Program at the University of Minnesota Medical School. “And when you think about what boxers do, they’re on their toes and moving around, kind of like jumping rope, so it works a lot of the same muscles.”

These days, other types of athletes, celebrities like Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, and laypersons of all walks of life are getting hip to the health benefits of hopping cables, which go far beyond helping to avoid a left hook. And according to Callie Gullickson, CPT, rope jumping is A-okay for all fitness levels, making it an excellent option for anyone looking to diversify or enhance their workout regimen.

There are a few disclaimers to that assertion, however. Dr. Roberts advises caution if you have orthopedic issues like foot, ankle, back, or knee problems. He also notes that if you've been sedentary for the last three months, it might be wise to start with a low-impact cardio option to build your aerobic base first. This is because while jumping rope may look easy—and it’s possible to remember it as such from way back in the day, when most physical exertions felt less strenuous than they do with age—it’s anything but; after all, you don't think Halle Berry maintains her famously epic bod with a few casual skips, do you?

Of course, nothing good comes easy, and there is a lot of good to be gleaned from incorporating a rope into your fitness routine. Below, 10 benefits that’ll have you jumping for (and with!) joy.


Jumping rope improves bone health.

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Rope jumping is a load-bearing exercise or an exercise that requires you to put weight on your skeleton. For this reason, it helps to improve your bone health, says Dr. Roberts.

And while yes, it’s great for maintaining bone density in adulthood, agrees Heather Milton, CSCS, an exercise physiologist at NYU Langone’s Sports Performance Center, it can have an even greater impact on young people because it also aids in bone development. “Especially for female youth, we want to encourage activities like this during puberty to peak bone density, as it is much harder to increase bone density after the age of twenty,” she says.

On the flip side, weight-bearing activities such as jumping rope may also help to improve bone health in postmenopausal women, the demographic most plagued by osteoporosis, according to a study published in BioMed Research International. So really, it’s a great practice at any age that’ll help you build and maintain a strong skeleton throughout your life.


It may help to prevent injury.

The stronger the bone, the harder it is to break, which is one of the reasons jumping rope is thought to help prevent injuries, too. People suffering from Osteoporosis, for example, can fracture bones easily after a fall or even through everyday activity, such as bending down. The more weight-bearing exercises, like rope jumping, you do at all stages in your life, then, the less likely you are to develop Osteoporosis or break bones through mild accidents.

Rope jumping may also help prevent injuries to the ankle, says Dr. Roberts, because the movement utilizes and therefore strengthens all the muscles that support it. “Jumping rope is a great way to build stability and mobility of the ankle joint,” agrees Gullickson. “These benefits make jumping rope great for anyone looking to avoid injury or for someone who is coming back from an injury.”


It improves cardiorespiratory health.

All three experts maintain that jumping rope is a great cardiorespiratory exercise. Why? “Jumping rope can be high intensity,” says Milton. “This means that the heart rate response to jumping rope can be much higher than other forms of cardio like walking, jogging, or cycling; although you can push hard on these types of cardio to get a high-intensity workout as well,” she says.

Such cardiovascular exercise isn’t just good for the heart and lungs, either. Milton adds that it helps to prevent weight gain, high blood pressure, Diabetes, certain types of cancers, and a number of other clinical conditions, too. “Skip the cardio machines, whip out your jump rope, and reap the heart-healthy benefits it provides,” Gullickson recommends.

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It improves coordination and balance.

Coordination is key to a successful rope jump—specifically amongst your hands, feet, and eyes—so repeated practice can improve your coordination overall, explains Gullickson. “Jumping rope isn’t easy,” she says. “It requires focus and body awareness.” Balance is also improved, adds Dr. Roberts, which is one of the reasons boxers are so fond of training with a jump rope.

The downside to this upside is that if you’re uncoordinated, to begin with, jumping rope can be difficult. Gullickson advises starting at a manageable pace (a.k.a., slowly) and keeping things as easy as possible with basic skips.


It’ll help you find your rhythm.

“Timing is a huge component of jumping rope,” Gullickson says. “It will improve your speed and rhythm in no time, especially when you start getting fancy with it—high knees, double-unders, criss-cross, and double side swipe are a few of the tricks you can do to ramp up your jump rope game. If tricks aren't your thing, try alternating between a quick and slow cadence every so often to challenge your pace.”


It helps to sculpt the calves.

If you envy calves that pop, jumping rope is a fun way to get showstoppers of your own. According to Gullickson, the take-off portion of the jumping program works to build calf muscles.

The landing has benefits for your calves, too. It helps to improve the elasticity of the tendons and fascia (i.e. connective tissue) which surround them, which helps them to better store energy.

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It really burns…off calories.

WH previously ranked skipping rope highest on its list of the best calorie-burning exercises. Its burn rate is between 667 to 990 calories per hour. What's more: Research supports the idea that jumping rope provides a better burn than running, too, says Matthew Stults-Kolehmainen, PhD FACSM, clinical exercise physiologist at Yale-New Haven Hospital. “According to the 2011 (most recent) Compendium of Physical Activities, skipping rope has a MET value [a measure used to estimate the amount of energy an activity expends] of 11, while running at 5mph (12 min/mile) has a MET value of 8.3," he says. “Running at a speed of 7mph (8.5 min/mile) has a MET value of 11, the equivalent to skipping rope. In other words, you have to run pretty fast to equal [the caloric burn] of jumping rope.”


It may help to improve shoulder strength.

From a strength and toning perspective, most of the physical benefits of jumping rope are focused on your core and lower body; however, it may help to improve shoulder strength too, according to findings from a small study published in the Human Kinetics Journal. Participants spent 12 weeks training with a weighted jump rope, and by the end, their shoulder joints were stronger and showed an increase in mobility.


It’s easy to progress.

All the goodness endowed by rope jumping can be easily enhanced by replacing a regular (or speed) rope with a weighted rope, notes Dr. Roberts. Because you’re swinging a heavier cable, you’ll see more strengthening and toning in the upper body, and torch more calories overall, too.

Something else to consider? Weighted ropes provide jumpers with greater gains in coordination and endurance, according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine. Heavier ropes can also lead to greater agility gains, per another study originally published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.

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The equipment is accessible, portable, and versatile.

“The best benefit of all is you can jump rope anywhere,” says Gullickson. [A jump rope] doesn't take up space, is super light (unless you have a weighted jump rope) and can fit into any small bag.” And if you fold them, she adds, jump ropes can double as props in, for example, an arms circuit. This makes them even more convenient for use when traveling.

You don’t need a ton of room to jump, either. “As long as you’ve got a reasonable ceiling height or there’s enough room for the rope to go over your head, it can be done indoors in a fairly small space,” Dr. Roberts says. It’s perfect for the outdoors, too, which means that if you don’t have room in your home, you can still partake of the equipment’s benefits (preferably while soaking in some vitamin D, too!).

And while there are premium jump ropes on the market—especially in the weighted category—they don’t have to be expensive. Shop a range of options here.

Headshot of Erin Bunch
Erin Bunch
Erin has over 15 years of experience as a journalist and professional writer. Her words have appeared in Well+Good, The Zoe Report, Brides, HuffPo, InStyle, Nylon, Bustle, Blood+Milk, LALA Magazine, TimeOut LA, HelloGiggles, The EveryGirl, and other outlets. In 2010 she founded—and then sold—Broke Girl’s Guide, a hyper-local lifestyle guide for young women on a budget. More recently, she co-wrote a cookbook for Los Angeles-based vegan restaurant Little Pine to be published in early 2021.
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