Jumping rope is a low cost exercise that requires little equipment and minimal space.
Running is also a low cost exercise, but it typically requires increased space to perform unless you’re running on a treadmill. However, that compromises the affordability.
Still, both are economical and efficient ways to work on your fitness, whether you’re working on endurance or intensity. As such, you may wonder which is better for you, or whether you should focus on one over the other.
This article reviews the differences between jumping rope and running.
Both jumping rope and running burn a significant amount of calories. When comparing the number of calories burned during a 10-minute session of each, jumping rope offers a slight advantage.
While other factors affect calorie burning, including your age and sex, these are the general guidelines.
Jumping rope and running burn a similar number of calories in the same amount of time. However, jumping rope burns slightly more calories when exercising at a medium or high intensity.
Both running and jumping rope involve the use of your lower extremity muscles for propulsion, while your core muscles provide trunk stabilization.
Also, single-foot rope jumping and the stance phase of running require somewhat similar trunk and hip stabilization.
However, running requires increased use of your buttocks (hip extensors) through a greater range of motion for propulsion. Yet, alternating single-foot rope jumping requires increased use of your hip abductors to keep your pelvis stable, just like during the stance phase of running.
Jumping rope also involves resistance to control the rope, involving your shoulder, biceps, triceps, and forearm flexor grip.
Meanwhile, running involves minimal resistance but the repetitive contraction of your shoulders (deltoids) and sustained flexion of the biceps to counterbalance your leg movement.
The impact force differs between single-skip rope jumping (single unders) and double-skip rope jumping (double unders). Double unders typically have a higher impact force than single unders (4).
Aerobic or anaerobic?
Both forms of exercise can be performed as aerobic exercise to enhance endurance by maintaining a steady pace over a longer duration.
In addition, sprints or high intensity intervals, which are considered anaerobic activities, can also be performed with both jumping rope and running.
Either is a good choice for high intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves short bouts of exercise at 80–95% of your max heart rate interspersed with periods of lower intensity exercise at 40–50% of your max heart rate (5).
Running and jumping rope work your lower body, require trunk and hip stabilization, and can train you aerobically and anaerobically. Their impact force is comparable, but when jumping rope, double unders are higher impact than single unders.
Other studies have found similar results regarding body fat reduction. The challenge is that both the quantity and size of studies on rope jumping tend to be smaller than those on running (
Running has been shown to be an excellent method of burning body fat. In fact, similar calorie expenditures were observed for various forms of running, including continuous endurance running and high intensity interval training (
Both running and jumping rope have been shown to provide health benefits, including reduced body fat and heart disease risk factors.
Both exercises have been shown to improve cardiovascular endurance — even if a rope wasn’t used to perform the jumping task. There are alternatives to corded jump ropes that put the body through the same movement but require less coordination (
There’s a correlation between jump rope speed (or the ability to perform double unders) and sprint speed. Thus, the ability to perform double unders may correlate to improved sprinting abilities given the anaerobic nature of the exercise (
In fact, double-under rope jumping has been a stable component of high intensity interval training and CrossFit programs since their inception.
Running and jumping rope improve muscular endurance and sprint performance.
Both activities involve increased ground reaction forces compared with activities like swimming, cycling, and walking. Thus, both activities may be difficult for people with lower leg injuries at the hips, knees, or ankles.
However, there are alternatives to running on land. There are gravity-reducing, or unweighting, treadmills, which assist a portion of your weight to decrease the mechanical stresses on your body.
Also, aqua jogging allows you to perform the mechanics of running in shallow or deep water.
Finally, the DigiJump machine offers a lower impact surface for simulating jumping rope. In addition, you can use a mini trampoline to simulate jumping rope.
Both running and jumping rope are higher impact than other activities, making them risky for those recovering from or susceptible to injury. Yet, alternatives like aqua jogging or jumping rope on a mini trampoline can reduce their bodily impact force.
Both forms of exercise have been shown to improve cardiovascular endurance. However, if you’re pressed for time, jumping rope may benefit you more than running.
Nevertheless, if your goal is to be a better runner or compete in running races, running is a better option. Furthermore, if you’re more inclined to enjoy a change of scenery during exercise, running is definitely a better option.
That said, jumping rope can be an alternative exercise to perform on days in between running to change the pattern of muscle activation while still working your cardiovascular system.
Both running and jumping rope are beneficial and comparable forms of exercise. Choosing one over the other depends on your goals and preferences.
Running and jumping rope are both excellent forms of exercise. They’re cheap and require minimal equipment.
Also, they both burn a significant number of calories in a short amount of time. This can help reduce your body fat percentage and improve your body composition, if those are your goals.
Nevertheless, both are high impact activities that may not be suitable for those who have hip, knee, or ankle injuries.
Picking the exercise that you find more interesting and that you’ll stick with is the most important factor. You can always alternate both activities as an excellent option to provide variety to your exercise routine.