It started this time last year after three friends and I celebrated Cinco de Mayo at a Mexican restaurant. Although we enjoyed ourselves, we ate a lot, and as we stared at empty bowls of chips and salsa we agreed we needed more exercise. “Jumping rope is an easy exercise to do at home!” I said. “I read somewhere that jumping rope for ten minutes is equal to jogging for thirty minutes!” Since I don’t like to jog, that sounded like a good deal to me. I told them I would start jumping rope as a quick and easy way to get more exercise.
“You can’t jump rope for ten minutes,” one friend said. “It’s too hard.” A challenge! After our dinner, I stopped at a big box athletic store and spent thirty bucks on a weighted training rope. I picked it from the two or three jump ropes available because I liked the promises on the package:
“Helps to improve conditioning and core strength.”
“Most need a heavier rope to train.”
“Some folks need a faster rope to PR on their double-unders.”
However, I later realized I didn’t know what a PR was, and couldn’t do double-unders, but…I like buying new gear. More on that later.
Exercise for Stress Relief
Any type of body movement is a good antidote for stress, but jump rope is particularly good for me because it helps me get my heart rate into the zone of low intensity training. In his book Spark The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, John Ratey cites evidence that exercise at this level reverses insulin resistance, a contributor to body fat buildup, and also supports increased production of the calming and pleasurable neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
An Easy Exercise to Do At Home
Jumping rope is a good exercise to do at home because it doesn’t take up much space, and can be done inside during bad weather and any time of the day. I’m writing this during the COVID-19 pandemic, when business travel seems a quaint relic of the past. However, I traveled for work almost half of each month in my previous life, and found jumping rope a convenient exercise to do in hotel rooms and exercise facilities.
Exercise in general is good for brain health, because it improves circulation and blood flow that nourishes the brain. Since activities with complex movements require coordination between different parts of the body, they give an extra boost to cognitive function since new nerve connections and pathways are formed when we learn new motor skills. As a result, activities like jumping rope, dancing, and racquet sports enhance brain health.
Finding Time to Exercise
If it is difficult for you to find time to exercise, jumping rope might be a good choice because it doesn’t take a long time to get health benefits.
My friend was right. After I bought that jump rope I discovered I could not jump for ten minutes. At first, I could only do a couple of minutes before I got winded. I planned to gradually work up to ten minutes, but my knee hurt if I jumped that long. A year later, I still haven’t made it to that magical ten minutes that’s supposed to equal jogging for a half hour.
Yet I still jump rope, because it helps me get my heartbeat in the training range. I can walk a brisk mile on a treadmill or path and never get my heart rate above 75. One minute jumping rope gets me into the moderate range. Thus, about three times a week I walk for a mile, jump rope for a minute, and walk another mile. It feels good, but only takes an hour. That’s much easier to fit into my schedule than a longer four or five mile walk. It’s similar to my approach to bicycling that I described in my video review of John Ratey’s book: https://deborahrankinrd.com/spark
How Do You Determine Your Target Heart Rate Zone?
The Penn Medicine Heart and Vascular Blog provides good guidance for target heart rates during exercise. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/heart-and-vascular-blog/2018/march/exercise-target-heart-rate
They note these are just general standards. If you take medications that affect heart rate, or if you have a heart condition or are in cardiac rehab, you need special consideration and monitoring before starting an exercise regime. They say an exercise physiologist is a good resource to consult to develop the best exercise plan for you.
Jump Rope Moves
I am not an expert on that, because I just do the basic hopping jump. In my opinion, the American Council on Exercise gives the best information on jumping rope as an exercise. They show different jump rope moves and styles: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6395/7-benefits-of-jumping-rope/
Jumping rope is generally considered to be lower impact (i.e. less force on bones and joints) than running or jogging, but it does put stress on the knees, ankles, and hips. Always check with your physician for approval before you begin a new exercise like this, and to reduce the risk of tripping or falling, don’t jump rope on carpet or grass. To reduce the impact on my joints, I like to jump on wooden floors, a smooth dirt surface, or an exercise mat.
Best Jump Rope
I am so happy you asked, since I love to buy gear—outdoor gear, camera gear, kitchen gear. The first jump rope I bought was difficult to use, so I ordered six different kinds from Amazon and tested them all!
What About You?
Do you check your heart rate during exercise?
How long has it been since you jumped rope?
If you’re thinking about jumping rope because it’s an easy exercise to do at home, save yourself time and money by referring to my jump rope guide before you buy a rope. On the guide, the different ropes are listed by their brand names, and you can find them by entering “jump ropes” into the search bar on Amazon.
Put your first name and email into the box below to get the jump rope guide.
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