Is Jump Rope Better Than Running?
We’re always looking for better workouts that lead to more weight loss, better muscle gains, and possibly a shorter time frame to achieve it all in.
Intensity overrules time spent, as we’ve found out in recent years with HIIT training, and one of the core exercises that you’ll find in HIIT is the jump rope.
It’s all about intensity, and if you’ve ever seen someone jumping rope during exercise, you’ll notice they sweat immensely. That’s because jumping rope forces you to move so much blood volume, and raises your heart rate to really up the intensity.
Let’s talk about jumping rope, how it compares against running, and find out what you should be using in your workout.
Why is Running Such a Popular Form of Cardio?
Running isn’t just a specific weight-loss trend or a fitness phase—it’s globally recognized as one of the most, if not the most popular forms of cardio sport. You could do a thousand different activities to elevate your heart rate, so why run?
Running on a consistent basis has been shown to have massive health benefits that other activities simply don’t possess. At least, they don’t possess all of these qualities at the same time.
- It Achieves Better Cardio Health: Running leads to better cardio health because it gets your blood pumping, helps with circulation and delivers key nutrients to the body, and improves blood flow in smaller vessels that may not get exercised as much. These vessels can begin to build up fatty deposits, and the improved blood flow forcibly moves fatty deposits while also lowering your risk for heart attack.
- It Removes Pressure From Joints: If your goal is to lose weight, there are a few cardio techniques that are going to save your joints. That being said, once you have your form down and have a quality pair of running shoes that actually benefit you, running is a great way to build up muscles surrounding key joints in your body, which can help stabilize them. There is also a danger of running too often that can cause cartilage damage and harm your joints, which is why it’s important to stick to a specific amount of cardio each week. This also gives the heart time to repair itself properly.
- It Enables Better Immune System Responses: Cardio exercise, running is the most prominent of them, promotes peripheral tissue exchange. That’s what white blood cells transfer between different peripheral tissue, creating a blood cell circulation if you will. The immune response in the body, which activates through your blood and lymph vessels, has a better (and faster) response rate to foreign entities in the body that can cause you illness or harm. Basically, cardio saves your life in more ways than one.
- It Can Help Lower Your Resting Heart Rate: Your heart is a muscle that never stops working, so wouldn’t it be great if we could offer it a little more rest a little more often? Your resting heart rate is somewhere between 60 BPM to around 100 BPM depending on weight, health, gender, and age. However, a lower resting heart rate means your cardiovascular system is functioning better, firing on all cylinders. Runners can experience a resting heart rate of 40 BPM, and in some extreme cases, as low as 30 BPM. It’s basically the most efficient that your heart can get.
- It Promotes Better Sleep: When you work out, you exert energy, and then your body requires you to sleep to restore some of it. But it’s not as simple as that—cardio actually helps people with insomnia to sleep better at night, and reduce sleepiness during the day that they often feel. When we exercise it tends to be around the same time each day or every other day, and this can also help our bodies know when to expect nutrition and when to expect exertion or the dispersion of energy. All of this can frame your circadian rhythm.
How Does Jumping Rope Compare?
Technically, jumping rope is a better pick until you reach a certain threshold, but there’s also time to take into consideration.
Let’s take a look at the major comparisons between the two and help you find what works best for you.
- Both Are Cardio: We talked about cardio benefits earlier, not necessarily those specific to running. The fact of the matter is, jumping rope and running are both excellent cardio and achieve similar results, albeit with different targeted muscle groups to some extent. You can jump rope or go on a run and you’ll be helping your heart and overall health either way.
- Jumping Rope is More Time Efficient (For Now): If you jump rope, you can burn tons of calories in a short amount of time while jumping rope. You could actually spend one minute of jumping rope and be as efficient as eight minutes of running, so a ten-minute jump rope session is equivalent to 80 minutes of running. But this does taper off. You can run for a lot longer than you can jump rope, so you could actually burn more calories with running if you can spend more time doing it, and once you reach a certain threshold where you could actually run for 90-150 minutes in a single session. That takes a lot of skill, and it is easier to save time by jumping rope if you can live with the calorie loss ceiling (which is still a considerable amount of calories to lose).
- Jumping Rope May Be Less Impactful on Your Joints: Notice the use of the word may because it’s for good reason—this depends on an individual, case-by-case basis, and also relates to how you perform both activities. If you run and you’re really, really hard on your joints, then it’s going to cause a lot of damage. If you jump rope more than six inches off the ground with every leap, you’re putting maximum impact on your joints. Typically, jumping rope is less impactful on your joints if you can get the height down in a rhythmic fashion and don’t go too high into the air.
Jumping rope is better for your time and better on your joints if you know what you’re doing, but there’s also no change in scenery, it’s often done indoors or in one static area outdoors, and it’s really difficult.
Jumping rope for more than a few minutes is a higher barrier-to-entry than running, which just about anyone can start doing with a pair of shoes and some spare time.
How to Stay Safe While Jumping Rope
Jumping rope comes with its own risks. This is how you stay safe and prevent joint damage while jumping rope.
- Aim for Three Inches Max: Over time, work it out so that you’re only jumping three inches off the ground, and the rope is traveling between your feet and the floor in this three-inch gap. This means less distance to impact and less damage on your joints, but you’ll still be engaging those calf muscles.
- 45° Swings: We have to remember that your arms are in this, too. Keep your elbows bent at a solid 45° angle so that your hands and wrists are doing all of the work to rotate the jump rope. This sounds like you’re not letting your arms engage, but your arms have to stay steady while your hands and wrists disperse all this momentum, and that takes muscle control. It’s not going to give you shredded arms, but it does help.
- Choose Solid Shoes: There’s a lot of impact on your calf muscles when you jump rope. On the one hand, this is a good thing for working out, but it can quickly sour and become a literal pain point instead of a benefit. Having shoes with good shock absorption can make all the difference. It doesn’t diminish what you’re performing in the exercise, and it won’t negate your efforts where it counts.
- Start Out Small: Your calves go through a lot of work here, so before you start jumping rope, you should consider beginning with smaller calf-related exercises. If you build up your calf muscles before you begin jumping rope, you’ll mitigate the impact on your muscles. Yes, it’s good to get thicker calves from jumping rope, but the main reason we’re jumping rope in the first place is cardio, so don’t become jaded with all the other benefits along the way. Prepare your body for it, because it can be intense.
Diversify Your Cardio
Jumping rope is different from running, of course, but it’s objectively better.
It’s something you can do on softer surfaces to reduce joint damage, and while it may not be as scenic, you can do it for less time than you would need during a run to achieve similar results. You can run for longer than you can jump rope, but it depends on the circumstances.
Ultimately, it’s up to you and how you use it. If you can apply jumping rope to your exercise routine, it’ll be more difficult for a few days, but you’ll quickly hop into the habit and see the pounds come off a little bit quicker by including it.