Running and jumping rope both stand out as top contenders for the best do-anywhere cardio workout. Both raise your heart rate, make your lungs and heart work hard, and cause you to sweat. So, if you want to add more cardio to your workout, running vs jump rope, which is better? The answer is dependent on a number of factors. Here’s how to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each and decide which activity is best for you.
Jumping rope: The pros
An efficient workout
Jumping rope is an excellent exercise for increasing your heart rate and working your heart and lungs. Its ability to quickly raise your heart rate indicates that it is a calorie-burner. You can increase the intensity simply by jumping faster or by using a weighted rope once you’ve mastered it—though if you’re new to it, you should start with a regular speed rope.
Strengthens your lower body
Jumping rope also builds strength in the lower body, says Jacque Crockford, certified personal trainer and exercise physiology content manager for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Jumping quickly off the ground over and over again works the muscles in the lower legs and ankles. This motion puts stress on your body in a new way. Over time, building this quick, explosive strength can help prevent injuries when you’re doing other sports or activities, Crockford says.
It’s also great for improving coordination. It requires significant mind-body communication to do successfully. When you first start out, it will most likely feel extremely difficult. It’s extremely frustrating to be bad at a playground activity. But if you persevere and practice, your coordination will improve and it will become much easier.
Jumping rope can also strengthen the core and arms while increasing bone density. It does, without a doubt, involve impact. Jumping rope, on the other hand, can be less stressful on your joints than running if you jump only one or two inches off the ground, keep your knees bent as you land, and stay light on your toes.
Jumping rope: The cons
It can be boring
Jumping rope for an extended period of time is extremely difficult mentally. It’s ideal for quick cardio bursts or a full 10-minute workout. However, jumping rope for an extended period of time can become extremely monotonous.
It takes practice
Many people dislike it as well because it is difficult to master. That is normal, and with practice, you will improve. However, you must persevere for a short period of time and practice on a regular basis.
How to start jumping rope
Stokes recommends setting aside a small amount of time, say, 10 minutes per day, to practice. Crockford enjoys using a jump rope for cross-training. It also works well as a cardio burst in between strength workout circuits or as a finisher at the end of a workout.
According to Crockford, like any other type of physical activity, you must gradually build up to get your body used to the jumping motion and quick ground contact. “You will feel it in your calves, ankles, and legs the next day.”
Just remember to ease into it: if you go too hard too fast, you may injure yourself or simply decide you don’t like how jumping rope makes you feel and quit before you get into a groove. As you get better, you can try variations like single-leg jumping and alternate-leg jumping.
Running: The pros
Good for the heart and lungs
Running is a great cardiovascular activity in and of itself. You can run at your own pace, and you can make the workout as intense (running sprint intervals or tackling hills) or as low-key (jogging at a leisurely pace) as you want. Even slow running is beneficial to your heart and lungs.
Running burns a lot of calories, and the faster and longer you run, the more calories you’ll burn. According to The Adult Compendium of Physical Activities, both jumping rope and running at an 8.5-mile-per-minute pace burn calories at a similar rate.
Many people also find that running improves their mental health. Running can be a great stress reliever, whether it’s a true runner’s high or just having a chunk of time to focus on your movement while listening to music or a podcast.
Although we think of running as primarily a cardio workout, it also works the legs, glutes, and core. Running is also a great way to keep your bones healthy.
It also does not necessitate any special abilities. We are all born with the ability to run. It does not necessitate the same level of skill as jumping rope. That is not to say that running is simple. However, most of us can simply get up and go without tripping over a piece of equipment.
Running: The cons
Running is also notorious for causing injuries. According to Yale Medicine, at least half of all regular runners are injured each year. Most injuries are caused by overuse, which occurs when tendons, nerves, muscles, or any other part of the body is repeatedly subjected to the same strain. (Here are some of the possible causes of lower back pain while running.)
Running puts a lot of strain on the joints, but it isn’t always bad or guaranteed to cause injury. The issue is that many people start running without supplementing it with cross-training, which strengthens the muscles used and prepares the body for impact.
If you run often and don’t do much else in terms of exercise, over time, the repetitive motion may contribute to injury, Crockford says. So you need to make sure you’re also stretching and strength training to keep your body healthy.
Takes a while to adjust to the workout
Also, if you’ve ever tried to start running, you know how awful it feels for a long time. It takes time to become accustomed to running, to the point where it feels good, if not euphoric. Getting into a routine requires a lot of consistency and commitment.
How to start running
Mixing running with walking is the best way to ease into a regular running routine. Try walking for four minutes and then running for one or two minutes; repeat for about 30 minutes. Do this for a few weeks, then reduce your walking time by one minute while increasing your running time by one minute. As your body adjusts to the demands, gradually reduce the amount of time you spend running and more time you spend walking.
The verdict of running vs jump rope
Many of the advantages of jumping rope and running are the same. The “better” of the two options may depend on the circumstances. For example, if it’s snowy and icy outside and you don’t have a treadmill at home, jumping rope can be a convenient way to keep your heart rate elevated and complete your cardio workout for the day. If the weather is nice, go for a run—or take your rope to the park and play around for a while.
If you have arthritis or any other joint injuries or issues, you should consult your doctor before engaging in either activity.
And always, always, always, start slow. Running or jumping rope at 100 mph out of the gate is a surefire way to get injured, burn out, and resent the activity. What is the best way to avoid injury and learn to enjoy jumping rope or running? Begin with a few minutes, move at a leisurely pace, and gradually increase both speed and time or distance.
On that note, your choice between running and jumping rope may simply come down to which activity you prefer. Nothing is wrong with that. The best exercise is the one you will actually do and stick with. Give them both a shot and listen to your heartbeat.