Rope skipping is an excellent cardiovascular exercise according to the U.S. Olympic Committee Sports Medicine Council. It is far less hard on the muscles and bones than jogging.
While running or jogging, each foot absorbs up to 5 times the body weight from the force of the impact as the foot hits the ground. This force of hitting the ground can cause damage to the feet, ankles, hips and knees. But in rope skipping, the shock of hitting the ground is absorbed by both feet allowing the calf muscles to control and absorb the impact.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, skipping rope is among the activities it recommends for aerobic conditioning. In order to improve heart and lung health, it must be performed 3 to 5 times per week for 12 to 20 minutes an hour, and at an intensity that will get the heart rate into training range.
To find your training range subtract your age from 220. Multiply that figure by .9 to get the high range. Multiply by .6 to get low range. With this formula a person 25 years old must keep their aerobic heart pulse between 117 and 176 to be gaining benefit. Aerobic benefits do not diminish or decline with training as in other aerobic activities.
From an energy standpoint, jumping rope at about 130 revolutions per minute is similar to running at 6 miles per hour or cycling 12 miles per hour. Just 10 minutes of rope skipping is equivalent to a one-mile run.
When choosing a rope, hold the rope and stand with your feet on the middle. If the length is correct, the handles should just reach your armpits. Handles should be thick and comfortable.
Look for a cushioned surface to jump on. A large rectangular carpet remnant is ideal. Hard surfaces like concrete should be avoided.
Choose well-cushioned athletic footwear just as you would for walking or running.
Start slow by gradually increasing session time over 2 to 3 weeks to let your leg muscles get accustomed to the extra exercise.
Many adults give up rope jumping because they are uncoordinated and miss too many steps. But this improves with time and practice.