Are you a jump rope-spinning fan or more of a leisurely skipper? No matter what your jump rope workout looks like, there's no denying that this deceptively simple exercise can really put your heart and lungs to work. Ultimately, how much you should jump rope every day depends on what sort of benefits you want.
To get the best rope-skipping benefits for your health, aim to jump rope at a moderate intensity for at least half an hour, five days a week. If your goal is losing weight, you may need to do more.
Rope Skipping Benefits Your Health
A cardiovascular workout like jumping rope can have serious benefits for your health, from reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease to improving your circulation and lung function, improving your cholesterol profile, regulating your blood sugar and insulin levels, and reducing inflammation. It can even strengthen your immune system and act as a natural mood booster.
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To get this kind of health benefit, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio, every week. That works out to 15 to 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week, depending on your workout intensity.
The HHS defines a moderate-intensity workout as hitting around a 5 or 6 on a scale of 10. If you can jump rope continuously and quickly enough to get up to a seven or eight out of 10, you'll have reached vigorous intensity.
That said, not everybody will have the coordination to do a continuous, intense jump rope workout. If you find yourself stopping to untangle the rope more often than you'd like, it's more practical to aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity rope jumping on most days.
Increasing Aerobic Benefits
The health benefits don't stop as soon as you cross that magical threshold of 75 to 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week. In fact, the HHS makes it clear that more is better when it comes to aerobic activity.
You'll see even more benefits if you can double that recommendation to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week or 150 minutes of vigorous cardio in the same time period. And going beyond that recommendation provides even more benefits — so basically, the more the better.
That can add up to a lot of rope jumping — and doing nothing but a single exercise for an extended period of time can be a recipe for boredom, injury or overtraining. So even if you're a real jump rope aficionado, don't be afraid to cross-train by introducing other exercises to balance out the stress an extended jump rope workout puts on your body.
Some particularly good exercises you can combine with jumping rope include low-impact workouts, such as cycling, swimming or walking. You can also opt for rowing and aerobic dance classes, both of which work your body through a wider range of motion than jump roping does — and they're low impact too.
Would you like even more proof that aerobic exercises like jumping rope are good for you? In a study that was published in an October 2018 issue of JAMA Cardiology, researchers followed more than 122,000 patients and found that cardiorespiratory fitness was inversely associated with long-term mortality.
To put it another way, the more cardiovascular fitness you have, the more likely you are to live longer.
Jumping Rope for Weight Loss
What if your primary goal is weight loss? Depending on what you eat, jumping rope for 30 minutes on most days of the week might be enough to help you lose weight. That depends on whether your rope skipping and your diet combine to create a calorie deficit or, to put it another way, you burn more calories than you take in.
Establishing a calorie deficit forces your body to use its energy reserves. In other words, the fat is stashed in various inconvenient places on your body — as fuel.
But if you use your jump rope workout as an excuse to overindulge, you might not only "eat back" the calories you just burned, but you could even end up eating more than you've burned. If you've ever wondered how it's possible to work out hard and still gain weight, that's one of the most common ways it happens.
So there's no single answer to how much you should jump rope to lose weight — it boils down to balancing your physical activity against your eating habits. But the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends starting with 30 to 45 minutes of moderate levels of physical activity, three to five days a week, as an initial goal. Once you've established that as a habit, you can tweak your jump rope workout plan — and your diet — as needed to meet your weight loss goals.
Even if you love skipping rope, doing a half-hour of nothing but a basic jump rope workout could get boring over the long term.
Don't be afraid to mix up your jump rope workouts by incorporating high knees, butt kicks, in-outs and other types of footwork, or by working on fancy tricks, such as double unders and crossovers.
Burn Calories by Jumping Rope
Here's a look at how the jump rope calorie burn might work: According to the American Council on Exercise physical activity calorie counter, if you weigh 175 pounds and jump rope fast for 30 minutes, you'll burn about 476 calories.
If you were already eating a healthy number of calories to maintain your weight and don't change your calorie target when you add in that jump rope workout routine, you could lose at least 2.5 pounds of fat per month without making any other changes. Although equating calories to pounds isn't an exact science, it's generally accepted that you must create a calorie deficit of about 3,500 calories to burn a pound of body fat.
If you also reduce your calorie intake by about 500 calories per day, you could roughly double that weight loss to about 5 pounds a month. With that said, Harvard Health Publishing and other expert organizations warn that you should never cut your diet to less than 1,200 calories per day for women, or 1,500 calories per day for men, unless you're under the guidance of a medical professional.
No matter how many calories you're eating, make sure you focus on a nutrient-rich diet that includes plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, high-quality lean protein and healthy unsaturated fats. Also, it's important to limit your daily intake of sodium, added sugar and unhealthy saturated fats.
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Appendix 1. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans"
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Physical Activity and Your Heart"
- Mayo Clinic: "Aerobic Exercise: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical"
- JAMA Network Open: "Association of Cardiorespiratory Fitness With Long-Term Mortality Among Adults Undergoing Exercise Treadmill Testing"
- American Council on Exercise: "Physical Activity Calorie Counter"
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Key Recommendations"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Chapter 1. Key Elements of Health Eating Patterns"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Simple Math Equals Easy Weight Loss"