After doing a little research I found a few research studies that have been published on the benefits of jumping rope; one study was published in The Research Quarterly, a journal of the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Research.
It was a comparative study of rope skipping and jogging, and tried to determine the effects of each on an individuals cardiovascular fitness level.
Led by John A. Baker at Arizona State University, the study divided 92 male students into two groups, half of the group skipped rope for 10-minutes a day, the other half jogged for 30-minutes a day. After six weeks, the men were administered the Harvard Step Test to measure their cardiovascular gain. Each group showed an equal level of improvement.
Baker concluded that a 10-minute daily program of rope jumping is as efficient as a 30-minute daily program of jogging for improvement cardiovascular efficiency. He went on to recommend that jumping rope, which is less time-consuming than jogging, would be a valuable component of any physical education program geared toward building endurance. He also viewed jumping rope as an option for adults who were unable to jog because of time or space restriction.
In a second study, a group of researchers from Temple University saw measurable gains in cardiovascular fitness in a group of adult men who engaged in progressive rope skipping. In another small study, women who jumped rope for five minutes a day, over a four-week period, were rewarded with lower pulse rates, increased oxygen uptake and a 25 percent improvement in physical work capacity.
Skipping rope has also been found in other studies to reduce tension and raise energy levels. Subjects in experiments at Illinois University’s Physical Fitness Research Center were studied while skipping rope during a 60-minute, five-day a week, for a ten-week period. The study demonstrated that the activity of jumping rope, can help lower pulse rate, blood pressure and increase oxygen consumption. The results were greater leg and knee strength, increased calf size, better jumping ability, and faster running speed. They were also found to be more agile, more flexible, and their hearts were found to have become stronger.
Jumping rope will expend about a 720 calories an hour (at 120-140 turns per minute and depending on body weight) which is the same as running at close to a six-mile pace. If the intensity is increased (i.e. number of foot taps) one can increase caloric expenditure to 1000 calories or more per hour, again depending on body weight. A boxer can hit 300 RPM in a minute of jumping rope.
These studies suggest that average people, non-athletes, are able to experience significant benefits from a form of exercise that required only a small time commitment and a minimal investment in equipment. On the opposite end of the spectrum you have the highly trained athlete, like the boxer that was mentioned, who can increase his endurance, improve balance, coordination, agility and quickness through his training. Those attributes are needed for all other athletes and you can take advantage of this training effect as well.
Try adding some jump roping into your training routine especially if you’re doing any type of interval or circuit training work. 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 it into your routine see Ross Enamait’s site.
The following statistics on jump roping were found on the Jump Rope Institute website founded in 1996 by former Olympian Buddy Lee. According to his site, “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