Why Jumping Rope Is Exactly the Kind of Cardio You Need

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Thinking of adding a jump rope into your fitness routine? Jumping rope is a great way to get some cardio and break a sweat, even if you only have a few minutes. It's also easy to do at home or outdoors, and the equipment takes up no space at all.

Jumping rope may conjure up memories of double-dutch on the playground, or even better, the famous DCOM "Jump In!" But this fun childhood pastime can also make for a killer workout when you're armed with the right information. POPSUGAR spoke with Tim Haft, certified personal trainer and founder of Punk Rope, to learn about the benefits of jumping rope and how to get started.

Benefits of Jumping Rope

When it comes to jumping rope, the benefits are plenty — from improved coordination and bone density to better agility and overall body composition. Here's what adding a jump rope to your workout plan could do.

Improved Coordination

Jumping rope requires the jumper to first turn the rope, and then jump over it. That sounds simple, but to successfully continue jumping, the two movements must be well-coordinated. To successfully jump fast, the timing must be flawless; to successfully jump for a long time, the rhythm must be flawless. That's why the more you practice jump roping, the more your coordination improves. That's one of the reasons why jump roping is so popular with boxers, who need excellent coordination, timing, and rhythm to be successful in the ring.

Improved Agility

Another area where jumping rope shines from a fitness perspective is helping athletes improve their ability to quickly change direction and change the position of their feet as well as their hands, Haft says. This agility training is what makes jumping rope popular with grapplers, tennis players, and basketball players.

Improved Proprioception (Awareness of Your Body's Movement and Position)

Proprioception is key for engaging in everyday life, playing sports, and, most importantly, avoiding injury, Haft says. To jump rope successfully, you must know where your feet are in relation to the rope, and if the rope is turning at 180 revolutions per minute or faster, there's no time to waste as far as fine-tuning your foot, hand, and body position.

Improved Bone Density

According to the CDC, nearly 19 percent of women aged 50 or older have osteoporosis of the femur, neck, or lumbar spine, and many more women and men have osteopenia. Research done at Brigham Young University found that jumping 10 to 20 times a day with 30-second breaks between jumps significantly improved hip bone mass density in women ages 25 to 50 after 16 weeks. And perhaps more significantly, there was a correlation between the amount of exercise performed and the increase in bone density. Although the study didn't look at jumping rope specifically, it's not a stretch to believe that jumping rope will lead to increased bone density.

Improved Body Composition

Research says that an adult who weighs 150 pounds will burn roughly 12 calories per minute performing the basic bounce at a relatively comfortable pace of 125 revolutions per minute. Jumping at a faster pace, using a weighted rope, or performing a more challenging step — such as the double-under — also has the potential to increase caloric expenditure. Depending on volume and intensity, jump roping can play a major role in your cardio routine.

Who Is Jumping Rope Good For?

Haft has personally seen jumping rope benefit a wide range of people, from children as young as 5 to adults as old as 85. The benefits listed above apply to just about everyone. For seniors specifically, jumping rope can help improve balance (even if they only spin the rope to the side and don't jump over it), bone density, strength, coordination, and cardiovascular fitness. Haft notes that those with orthopedic challenges should be cautious and check with a physician before jumping rope.

Any Risks When It Comes to Jumping Rope?

As with starting any new fitness activity, you should know that it's safe for you before you begin. If you have orthopedic issues or other health challenges, check with your physician before jumping. You'll want to make sure you have a supportive pair of well-fitting sneakers, as well a good flat surface to jump on, preferably one that has a little give to it, like a wooden basketball court or a rubberized track, Haft says. And lastly, of course, you'll need a jump rope! If you don't already have one, you can shop POPSUGAR's fitness line, including our Premium Cable Jump Rope ($13).

For beginners, Haft recommends a rope that's not too light (avoid cable ropes for now) and can be adjusted to their height. His last recommendation is to start slowly and progress slowly, in terms of how much you're jumping each day, to give your body time to adapt to the stress of the impact from jumping.