Why Jumping Rope Is Shockingly Good
This article originally appeared on Time.com.
A jump rope feels decidedly old-school: something you played with as a kid but that most adults, except for boxers, leave behind.
That’s a shame, because jumping rope offers a combination of benefits to bone, balance and muscles that most types of exercise can’t match.
“If you’ve done it lately, you know how much it can get your heart pumping,” says Tim Church, a professor at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “But one of the nice things about it is the intensity can really be as high as you want it to be.”
While slow-paced rope jumping is a great warm-up exercise, rapid jumping or “double-unders”—where the rope passes under your feet twice before you land—will leave you panting after just a minute or two.
The whole-body synchronization required to successfully jump rope is another major selling point. “Boxers do it because the precise timing it requires between the feet and hands helps connect the upper and lower body with the brain,” Church explains.
Like a group of musicians unaccustomed to playing with one another, your brain and major muscle groups can struggle to stay in sync—especially as you age. Jumping rope helps them perform in concert, which can lower your risk for slips and awkward falls.
“When I teach kids who are struggling with coordination or complex movements, I have them jump rope,” Church says. One study of young soccer players found that compared to kids who only practiced their soccer drills, those who incorporated a jump-rope routine better improved their balance and motor coordination.