In the middle of pandemic stress and potentially limited access to gyms, finding new at-home workouts is crucial. Studies show that a jump rope is an incredible tool for building strength, speed and agility. Here’s how this simple piece of equipment could elevate your workout.
JUMP ROPE INCREASES SPEED AND POWER
Jump training has been linked to faster running times for endurance runners. That’s because when you are jumping, your foot hits the ground for shorter periods of time than while running. This reduced contact time, along with the power it takes to push off from the ground, helps increase speed in activities like running.
In addition, with the quick motion of jumping, your muscles and tendons have to contract and recoil faster, while still providing an equal amount of force. While strength is the ability to exert force, power is the ability to do it within a certain time frame. Therefore, exerting the same amount of force in a shorter time frame builds power.
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YOUR BALANCE AND RESPONSE TIME IMPROVE
Any repetitive jumping activity increases the number and efficiency of fast-twitch muscle fibres, which are used in quick, explosive movements. “When you jump rope, fast-twitch muscles are firing faster and giving feedback to the brain quicker,” said Alysia Robichau, a sports medicine doctor at Houston Methodist Hospital.
The connection between your fast-twitch muscle fibres and your brain is a major part of what keeps your body in balance.
As we age, we lose muscle, with our fast-twitch muscles declining the fastest, which is one of the reasons older people have a higher risk of falling. Exercises such as jump rope can prevent or reverse that decline in the calves, hamstrings and quadriceps.
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YOU GAIN INCREASED BONE DENSITY
Bone tissue is dynamic, engaged in a constant cycle of building and breaking down. When your bones are put under repeated stress, such as by jumping rope, it stimulates them to build back thicker and stronger.
MIXING IT UP CAN REDUCE INJURY
All of the different movements in jump rope, such as hopping, skipping or shuffling, offer a more varied form of movement than what you get from something like running, where you are doing a single repetitive motion. Research suggests that this more multidirectional type of training can help prevent overuse injuries.
By Rachel Fairbank© The New York Times
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.