We all know that running has many health benefits but when it comes to getting in shape, is it the best option? There have been several reports over the past few years claiming that 10-minutes of jump rope is the same as running for 30-minutes. Can this really be true?!
Top strength and conditioning expert, Michael Wood, investigates the evidence and shares his findings on how jump rope compares to running.
Cardiovascular (CV) Fitness
After doing a little research I was able to find a few studies on the benefits of jump rope.
One study was in The Research Quarterly, a journal of the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Research. The main aim of the study was to determine the effects of running and rope skipping on CV fitness.
Led by John A. Baker at Arizona State University, the study divided 92 male students into two groups. Half of the group jogged for 30-minutes a day, the other half skipped rope for 10-minutes a day.
After six weeks, their CV gains were measured using the Harvard Step Test . The results showed an equal level of improvement in each group.
Baker therefore concluded that a 10-minute daily program of rope jumping is as good as a 30-minute daily program of jogging for improvement of CV efficiency.
He went on to recommend that jumping rope is a valuable component of any program that aims to build endurance. He also viewed jumping rope as an option for adults who can’t jog because of time or space restrictions.
Another study at Temple University saw measurable gains in CV fitness in a group of adult men who engaged in progressive rope skipping. In a further study, women who skipped for five minutes a day over a four-week period got the following rewards:
- Lower pulse rates
- Increased oxygen uptake
- A 25% increase in physical work capacity
Further Benefits of Jump Rope
Research has shown that skipping rope can not only reduce tension but also raise energy levels. Subjects taking part in a study at Illinois University’s Physical Fitness Research Center were monitored while skipping rope during a 60-minute, five-day a week, ten-week period.
The results were greater leg and knee strength, an increase in calf size, better jumping ability, and faster running speed. Subjects also became more agile and flexible, and their hearts became stronger.
Jump rope is also great for burning calories. It will expend about a 720 cals an hour (at 120-140 turns per minute and depending on body weight). This is the same as running at close to a six-mile pace.
If you increase the intensity (i.e. number of foot taps), you can expect to increase caloric expenditure to 1000 cals or more per hour. This is again depending on body weight. A boxer can hit 300 RPM in a minute of jumping rope.
In addition to the above studies, the Jump Rope Institute website claims, “research has shown jumping rope for a minimum of five minutes a day can improve physical fitness and when you build to ten minutes of nonstop jumping at 120 RPMs it can provide the same benefits as the following”:
- 30 minutes of jogging
- 2 sets of tennis singles
- 30 minutes of racquet and handball playing
- 720 yards of swimming
- 18 holes of golf
Jump rope is a great alternative to running. It is an excellent activity to add into your training routine, especially if you’re doing interval or circuit training work.
The research suggests that average people (non-athletes), can experience many benefits from a form of exercise that requires only a small time commitment and also a minimal investment in equipment.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, athletes that train frequently, can increase their endurance, and improve balance, coordination, agility and quickness through training using a jump rope.
My advice is to make sure you start slow and increase your toe taps over time. As an example, I average about 125 toe taps or RPM for every minute of jumping rope.
For more information on adding jump rope into your routine see Ross Enamait’s site.
About Michael Wood
Michael Wood, CSCS, is one of the top strength & conditioning experts in the US. He is CEO of Michael Wood Fitness, and his clients include some of the biggest names in the athletic, academic, and entertainment industries.
His company has completed more than 30,000 training sessions to date under Michael’s guidance. He is also the Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, LLC, which develops interactive software and hardware for the fitness industry.
Michael has developed more than 150 strength training programs to date that are featured on the Koko Smartrainer®, a strength training product powered by patented technology. In addition, he has developed more than 500 audio-based Koko cardio treadmill and elliptical workouts.
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