Jump Rope vs. Running: Which is Better for Cardio?

Jan 16, 2024Devin Meek

You breathe more deeply and rapidly. Your heart beats faster. You sweat. All these are probably because you are moving the large muscles in your arms, legs, and hips for a sustained period.

When these muscles are involved in a workout, it’s called a cardiovascular workout. During the activity, it progressively challenges your internal body organs and improves the performance and function of your heart, circulatory system, and lungs.

And the two most common and effective cardiovascular exercises are jumping rope and running.

But between these two cardio powerhouses, which one do you think will give you a better workout or would result in better cardiovascular health?

Read on to find the answer!

Which Cardio Workout Should You Choose?

Jump Rope vs Cardio

Cardiovascular efficiency

A study that appeared in the Research Quarterly, American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation showed that skipping rope is a better cardiovascular workout than running or jogging.

For the said study, a total of 92 male students were divided into two groups. Group 1 skipped rope 10 minutes daily for six weeks while group 2 jogged 30 minutes daily for the same period. The findings revealed that group 1 participants had better improvement in their cardiovascular health.

Therefore, when you jump rope, you get fatigued more quickly than running since jumping rope is an extensive form of workout.

Time spent exercising

Forget spending half an hour on a treadmill, stationary cycle, or a stepping machine if your goal is only a cardio routine. All you need is a jump rope to reap the same health benefits in less time. Specifically, jumping for 10 minutes daily three times more effective than running for 10 minutes.

Muscles used

Both jumping rope and running involve the use of lower extremity muscles and core muscles including calf muscles, hamstrings, quads, abs, glutes, oblique muscles, triceps, biceps, chest muscles, shoulders, and back muscles.

However, running requires increased use of hip extensors - the hamstrings and gluteus maximus - to achieve a greater range of motion.

Impact force

As long as you do it correctly, jumping rope can be a lower impact workout than running. That is why runners sometimes train on their off days using jump ropes to prevent shin splints and build their ankle stability. Compared to running mile after mile, the light but repetitive jumps put less pressure on your knees.

If you are a beginner in jumping rope, I recommend you try the Core Jump Rope as it will provide you with feedback. Feedback allows you to feel the timing of the rope while it spins. Just remember that understanding the movement of the rope is important if you want to learn skill or advanced techniques beyond just ordinary jumping.

The Verdict: Jumping Rope is the Better Form of Cardio

Good news for fitness enthusiasts who have limited space at home…all you need is a jump rope and a jump rope mat and you’re good to go.

A jump rope may be a small exercise tool, but it is portable and mighty! Skipping rope is especially helpful during this challenging time when many people are still hesitant to go to public gyms. Beyond that, a jump rope can also provide various athletic benefits, from agility to power, and coordination! And one big perk of all: It’s downright fun!

Not Ready to Give Up Running? 4 Ways a Jump Rope Helps with Running

1. It Increases Running Speed

Just because jumping rope is a better cardio workout than running doesn't mean you can ditch the other to favor one. Jumping rope could even be an effective way to strengthen your muscles and build your running endurance. A 2019 research published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance demonstrated that jump rope training improved the 3-km trial performance and reactive strength index (RSI) of amateur endurance runners.

4 Ways a Jump Rope Helps Running

2. It Improves Coordination

Including a jump rope cardio workout in your pre-run routine, will help improve your coordination as you develop a regular and steady relationship between your eyes, hands, and feet. This can positively affect your ability to connect with different parts of your body, too. As you do repetitive movement while staying in control of your feet, movements can help you increase your timing skill and stay light during a run.

3. It Creates a Rhythm

Rope skipping develops a calming harmony between relaxation and rhythm - even at high speeds. And rhythm is important when running. Start too fast and you may wear out during the run. End with too much energy in your body and you may not feel satisfied. By staying aware of your pace and rhythm, you will get more endurance benefits, and this allows you to push yourself more to do hard things in training. This becomes of utmost importance if you’re in for longer runs. Just like in running, timing is also important during jump rope because you must find the right cadence and beat.

Jump Rope on a Bridge

4. It Actually Prevents Leg Injuries

When looking for ways to prevent the risk of injuries during a run, you can focus on strengthening the muscle groups that support the knees, ankles, and feet. And that’s exactly what rope jumping can do. This strategy for strengthening muscle groups that support ligaments, tendons, and joints is even practiced in many rehabilitation programs.

The Bottom Line

Jumping rope and running are both great forms of cardio exercise. So, even though jump rope is better for cardio, running unquestionably has health benefits, too. In fact, it offers the same benefits and general goals as jumping rope.

Both will help build cardiovascular health and mental health, increase overall longevity, reduce the risk of disease, increase oxygenated blood flow to the muscles, and maintain a healthy weight and bone density.

That’s why I would suggest you alternate between running and jumping rope. Still, your choice of which is best may all come down to which physical activity you have more fun with and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. So, which exercise resonates the most with you? Just go ahead and follow your heart!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is 10 Minutes of Jumping Rope Equivalent to in Running?

10 minutes of jumping rope is equivalent to roughly 30 minutes of running, but this can vary based on factors such as technique, efficiency, and intensity.

Is It Better To Jump Rope or Run?

Choosing between jumping rope and running depends on your preferences and fitness goals. Jumping rope is a more efficient cardiovascular workout, burning calories faster in less time, and having less impact on your joints. Why not consider incorporating both for a well-rounded fitness routine?

About the Author

Devin Meek is the Director of Education for Elite Jumps. He's been a jump rope entertainer for over eighteen years and is a three-time world champion competitive jumper. Devin travels the country sharing his passion for the sport, giving jump rope workshops to schools, CrossFit gyms, and corporate wellness programs.


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