Jump rope and running.
Both killer cardio workouts. Both serious calorie incinerators. Both super fun.
Jump rope and running also have a host of other benefits including improving your bone density, boosting your cardiovascular and mental health, relieving stress, and more.
So how do you decide which exercise is right for you?
In this article, we’ll show you how jump rope stacks up against running, in terms of their calorie burn, muscles worked, impact on your joints, and more.
Let the comparison begin!
Jump rope vs running: Muscles worked
Both jumping rope and running score high on muscle engagement.
When you jump rope you don’t just activate your lower body muscles including your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and obliques, but muscles also start firing in your entire upper body to control the force with which you twirl the rope. We’re talking abs, shoulders, forearms, biceps, triceps, chest, and back muscles!
Similarly, when you pound the pavement, you don’t just work your hip flexors, glutes, calves, etc. but also heavily engage your core which helps stabilize your whole body. Not to mention your biceps, triceps, lats, and deltoids that are used to pump your arms back and forth and propel you forward.
Jump rope vs running: Impact on joints
Here’s an eye-popping statistic.
In a recent study of around 200 recreational runners aged between 18 and 55, who had been running for at least a year, it was seen that 46% of them sustained injuries within a year, of which knee injuries accounted for 27%. The study also showed that newer runners tend to have higher injury incidence rates.
Running injuries usually occur due to factors such as poor form, overtraining, not enough rest between runs, running on hard surfaces such as concrete, etc.
Jumping rope can also put stress on your knees when you jump improperly, jump on a hard surface, jump too high, or don’t wear shock-absorbing shoes.
But as per a recent study, jumping rope puts a lot less stress on your knees as compared to running.
Winner: Jump rope
Jump rope vs running: Calorie burn
Let’s get one thing straight. Jumping rope and running are both kick-ass calorie-torchers.
But jumping rope does have a small advantage in that it can burn slightly more calories than running, when performed at a medium or high intensity.
Let’s look at the estimated calorie burn for a 150-pound person performing each of these exercises for 10 minutes.
One thing to note though.
The number of calories you burn also depends on how good you are at either jump rope or running.
Say you’re a fantastic runner who can run with excellent form but are completely hopeless with a jump rope, then you’re surely going to burn more calories running than skipping. But if you’re someone who can really work a jump rope, then there’s no better way to shed those calories.
Winner: Jump rope
Jump rope vs running: Aerobic and Anaerobic benefits
Another commonality between jump rope and running- They can be both aerobic and anaerobic exercises.
When you jump rope at a slow pace or jog at a steady pace, it acts as an aerobic exercise - meaning your body uses oxygen to produce energy. Your breathing and heart rate increase for a sustained period and you’d be able to keep at it for a longer duration.
But when you jump rope at a high intensity or sprint, it becomes an anaerobic exercise where your body doesn’t use oxygen but instead uses energy from stored glycogen in your muscles. This means you’ll be able to perform at this fast-paced level only for a short time.
So what’s the big deal with working both your aerobic and anaerobic systems? Bigger and stronger muscles!
Aerobic exercises make use of your slow twitch muscle fibers (muscles that are responsible for endurance), while anaerobic exercises amp up the size and quantity of your fast twitch muscle fibers (muscles that help with those quick bursts of energy).
Just by switching up your jump rope intensity or running speed, you stand to gain both endurance and power.
Jump rope vs running: Strength training benefit
Running is predominantly a cardio exercise. While you might build good muscle endurance in your legs, you will still need to supplement it with a strength-training routine.
But wait, isn’t jump rope also just cardio?
Not if it’s a weighted one!
With a weighted jump rope, your forearms, shoulders, back, core, and upper arm muscles all go into overdrive because of the added resistance that it offers.
The result: Upper body strength to die for!
Winner: Jump rope
Want to know which type of skipping rope is best for you? Check out this blog post.
In some situations, you might be better off avoiding these two forms of exercise. Or you would have to seek the advice of a medical expert before taking it up. Let’s get into that now, shall we?
Who should avoid jumping rope?
These include people who
- Have recently suffered a heart attack or have heart problems such as ischemic heart disease or congestive heart failure.
- Have injuries at the ankles, hips, or knees.
- Have asthma.
- Have high blood pressure.
- Have bone injuries.
- Have osteoporosis.
- Are recuperating after major surgery or illness.
Who should avoid running?
These include people who
- Suffer from arthritis, especially in the weight-bearing joints
- Have any type of cardiovascular disease
- Have respiratory problems
- Have disorders that increase the risk of falling
- Have conditions that affect mobility
- Are prone to joint, muscle, or bone injuries
Alternatives for people who can’t jump rope or run
If you’re an older person or someone with lower leg injuries, there are quite a few low-impact alternatives to running and jump rope that you can try.
- Aqua-jogging (where you mimic a running motion in the deep end of a swimming pool without your feet touching the floor)
- Anti-gravity treadmills (a device that uses air pressure to make your body weigh less, thus reducing the impact on your joints)
- DigiJump machines (a jump rope simulator with a lower impact surface)
- Jumping on a mini trampoline
Jump rope vs running: Which one to choose?
This boils down to your fitness goals and personal preferences.
Top reasons to choose jump rope
Burns calories efficiently
As mentioned earlier, when compared to running, jumping rope burns more calories in the same amount of time when done at a fast pace.
- Puts minimum stress on your joints
With running, there’s a higher risk of injuries to the knees and hips as most runners (especially marathoners) tend to heel strike (land on the heel first).
But when you jump rope with good form, your knees are bent and you land on the midsoles of your feet. Your knees and ankles thus turn into shock absorbers, meaning the force is evenly spread throughout your body with hardly any impact on your joints.
- Gives you killer arms
A weighted jump rope is all you need to get those drool-worthy shoulders, biceps, and triceps.
- Doesn’t require a lot of space
If you live in a teeny apartment or an area with weather conditions that make it impossible to run outside, then a jump rope is a no-brainer.
- Takes your running skills up a notch
Here’s a fun fact. You can actually get better at running by jumping rope.
- It makes your runs smoother by reducing the amount of energy your body needs to expend to move at a faster speed.
- It helps strengthen your glutes – a crucial factor in helping runners hit top speed.
- It helps improve the coordination between your eyes, hands, and feet which can help with running.
So if you’re wondering whether jumping rope can be a good substitute for running, it definitely can.
Top reasons to choose running
- Helps you get a sculpted butt
If there’s one muscle group that’ll really thank you for running, it’s the glutes.
With distance running, the slow twitch muscle fibers in your glutes are fired up leading to a stronger and more toned booty.
Sprinting, on the other hand, uses your fast-twitch muscle fibers that cause an increase in muscle size. Translation: bigger booty!
Jumping rope can be challenging as it can take a fair bit of time to get your rhythm and coordination down. Running, on the other hand, is easier for beginners as you don’t require too much coordination to get started.
- Mood- elevator
Feelin’ blue? Running outdoors is one of the best mood-boosters out there. A study showed that folks who ran outdoors reported reduced feelings of depression, and higher energy levels.
Plus, let’s not forget all the Vitamin-D you get to soak up that’ll do wonders for your eyes, bones, and immunity.
- Increases your longevity
Research shows that “runners have a 25% to 40% reduced risk of premature mortality and live approximately three years longer than non-runners."
That’s one helluva reason to lace up those sneakers, right?
Whether you choose jump rope or running, there are plenty of benefits to reap. The important thing is to pick the activity that you enjoy doing the most. ‘Cause the best workout is the one that you consistently do.
If jump rope is your jam, then don’t forget to check out our awesome collection of skipping ropes.
Would you choose one over the other or a little bit of both? Tell us in the comments below!