You might fondly remember jumping rope as a child for fun, but rope jumping isn’t just child’s play, it’s an excellent cardiovascular exercise. Grab a rope, start jumping, and you’ll have your heart rate up in no time. You also might discover you enjoy this activity from childhood, but the benefits are more than child’s play. If you do it consistently, you can build cardiovascular fitness through rope jumping alone.
Plus, jumping rope improves coordination and agility too. That’s why so many sports coaches encourage players to jump and make it part of their training program. Another advantage of jumping rope is it’s a high-impact exercise, one that helps build bone and protects against osteoporosis. Even a 10-minute jump rope workout will boost your heart rate, burn calories, and improve your cardiovascular system, but check with your physician first if you have joint problems or osteoporosis. However, a study found that jumping rope improved the quality of knee cartilage and knee extensor strength in women with mild osteoarthritis of the knee.
If you haven’t jumped rope for years, it might seem intimidating at first. That’s why it’s important to start slow and use the right jump rope. Don’t assume you can borrow a child’s jump rope and jump rope safely and effectively. Once you’re ready, get your own dedicated jump rope and get serious about jumping.
Here’s how to pick out the perfect jump rope that will help you get into excellent cardiovascular shape safely.
How to Choose a Jump Rope
The most important part of a jump rope is the cable, the portion you jump over. Jump rope cables come in a variety of materials, including cotton, jute, leather, nylon, and PVC. You can even buy cables made of tiny plastic beads that are quite inexpensive. The advantage of such a rope is its lightweight and easy to turn. When you first start out, a lighter weight rope is easier to handle and is usually quite inexpensive. However, it’s wise not to choose the cheapest rope if you expect to have it for a while. For example, cotton and nylon cables are not very durable while those made of steel, PVC, or leather will give years of service.
If you decide to get serious about jumping rope, consider investing in a jump rope with a steel cable. You can choose various cable thicknesses from ultra-thin and light to thicker ones. Some are coated with vinyl or PVC in various colors. The ultra-thin cables are lightweight and allow you to generate significant speed. They’re the obvious choice for speed work, although it’s best to use them on a smooth surface indoors as the thin cable makes it less durable. If the cable is super thin, it can also kink. The advantage is the light cable feels almost weightless when you turn it.
If you’d like more shoulder work, a weighted rope will force your shoulders and upper body to work harder swinging the rope over your head. Start lighter and work up to a heavier rope. Weighted ropes start at one pound and go up to six pounds or more. The downside is it’s harder to generate speed with a heavy rope, so you’re sacrificing speed for more emphasis on the upper body.
Newer to the scene are jump ropes that have detachable handles so you can vary the cables you use from light to ultra-heavy. As you might expect, these ropes cost more but are long-lasting and adaptable to your needs and goals.
What about the Handles?
The handles on a jump rope matter too. If you do an intense jump rope workout, your hands will get sweaty and the rope can slip out of your hands. This is less likely to happen if you have jump rope handles that lack surface grain or texture. So, avoid jump rope handles that are smooth and look for ones that have texture on the handle for a better grip. The handles on some jump ropes have a layer of foam over the handle fr added traction against your hands. If you have large hands or plan on doing more advanced jump rope moves, choose a rope with long handles so you have more room to maneuver.
Jump Rope Length Matters Too
When buying a rope, choose the proper length so the cable isn’t too long or too short for your height. To determine whether you have the right length, place your feet at the center of the rope and lift the handles up along either side of your body. The cable should reach your armpits on each side. A rope that’s too long can tangle and one that’s too short won’t be functional. Take the time to fit the rope to your height. Some ropes even allow you to adjust the length of the cable, and that can be handy as your goals change and your skills improve. As you get more advanced, shorten the cable so you can generate more speed.
Don’t choose the first jump rope you see advertised or choose the cheapest one. Consider your level of experience jumping rope and what your goals are. If speed is your goal, a thin cable will allow you to generate more speed and a steel cable is a benefit due to its longevity.
If you’d like to increase the challenge to your upper body, a heavier cable will help you meet your goals, but you’ll sacrifice speed. Be sure to choose the proper length and select handles you can grip without fear of the jump rope flying out of your hands when your hands sweat. Do your research and shop around. If possible, try a few types of jump ropes before buying and see which best meets your needs. Have fun jumping!
- J Sports Sci Med. 2015 Dec; 14(4): 792-798. Published online 2015 Nov 24.
- ScienceDaily.com. “Jump Rope”
- DicksSportingGoods.com. “Jump Ropes”
- J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2020 Jan 28;33(1):129-137. doi: 10.1515/jpem-2019-0327.
- J Sports Sci Med. 2015 Dec; 14(4): 792–798. Published online 2015 Nov 24.
- ScienceDaily.com. “Osteoarthritis patients benefit from jumping exercise”