While it’s no surprise, this is one of the main benefits of jumping rope. In a study conducted by Science Daily, jumping rope “can achieve a ‘burn rate’ of up to 1300 calories per hour of vigorous activity, with about 0.1 calories consumed per jump. Ten minutes of jumping rope can roughly be considered the equivalent of running an eight-minute mile.” And you don’t even have to leave your front yard. “The amount of calories you’ll burn jumping rope really depends on intensity,” Jeff Halvey, former Today Show correspondent and founder of Apex Human Performance explains. And the beautiful thing about a jump rope is that you have full control of the intensity level. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts are known for burning fat more quickly than low-intensity cardio, so a tool that allows you to quickly switch between a steady jump and a maximum effort sprint is key to maintaining those intervals.
2. Triggers the “Afterburn Effect”
Or, as it’s more scientifically known, EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). The afterburn effect refers to your body’s physiological response to exercise. “It’s an increase in metabolic activity that occurs post exercise,” Halevy tells us. After engaging in physical activity, your body’s metabolism is elevated and this elevation is linked to an increase in oxygen consumption to help your body return to a pre-workout state. There are tons of factors that contribute to EPOC, including elevated heart rate and a higher core temperature, but as your body works to restore your muscles post-workout, it’s actually burning more calories. Yes, even as you shower or relax on the couch.
While most exercises will result in some form of EPOC, the intensity you’ll achieve through jumping rope can rev it up even more. “If you’re doing double unders, you’ll burn a lot more calories and you’ll probably get more of that afterburn effect,” Halevy says. Nevertheless, he warns against relying on metabolism alone. “The effect is not so significant that you can go out and eat a whole pizza. Modulating your energy balance (calories in and calories out), especially if your goal is to lose weight, should also come from modifying your diet.”
3. Strengthens Balance and Coordination
Studies, like this 2015 one published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, have proven that jump rope training can help improve overall balance and motor coordination, but how exactly does a little rope do all that? “[Jumping rope] has some particular benefits that could fall into the category of extensive plyometrics,” Craig Weller, master coach and exercise systems program director of Precision Nutrition explains. “These are short, low-intensity hops or bounds done for a relatively large number of repetitions that help to reinforce athletic motor patterns and develop fatigue-resistance in fast-twitch muscle fibers.” Basically, all that jumping around results in stronger, more powerful muscles, which are able to contract (and therefore react) more quickly. Take that, top step we always trip over.
4. Improves Lower Leg Joint Health and Muscle Density
If you’re already an active person, jumping rope can help strengthen the lower leg muscles that surround your joints and ligaments (this means fewer foot and ankle injuries). Again, the benefits go back to the plyometric nature of jumping rope. By increasing your muscle density and improving your foot coordination, you decrease your chance of potential injury in those areas. According to the Jump Rope Institute (yep, it’s a thing), jumping rope trains your body by maintaining activity on the balls of your feet, rather than falling back onto your heels. This repetitive motion provides you with the strength and muscle memory necessary to go through life injury-free. It won’t save you from every accident, but it might help you heal faster the next time you roll your ankle.
This being said, jumping rope can also have the opposite effect if you don't do it correctly. If you’ve never picked up a rope before or are just beginning your fitness journey, start slow and check in with a pro if you need help. “No matter what form of exercise you do, you must make sure that your joints are able to get into a position where they can absorb and adapt to stress,” Halevy cautions. “That’s the baseline for all exercise."