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Home arrow Fitness arrow Running arrow Jump Rope vs. Running: Which Is Better for Weight Loss?

Jump Rope vs. Running: Which Is Better for Weight Loss?

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: January 30, 2023
8 min read 1497 Views 0 Comments
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As of today, running is one of the most important cardiovascular exercises. But how does jump rope compare to it? Today, we examine the jump rope vs. running debate and see which exercise is the best for you.

jump rope vs running

Cardiovascular exercise has gradually become an essential part of any workout routine. Most people opine that cardiovascular workouts are the foundation of any solid training, and there are a number of ways to go about it. 

Running has grown increasingly famous in our current society due to its onslaught of health benefits and budget-friendliness. It offers weight loss, muscle development, mental health, and cardiovascular health benefits, making it one of the best exercises out there.

Another great exercise that only a handful of people engage in is rope jumping. Gone are the days when we only saw jumping rope as an activity for children, and just like running, it offers many fitness opportunities.

Today, our goal is to break down the jump rope vs. running debate, revealing the nuances between them and comparing their health benefits to reveal which cardio workout is best for overall fitness improvement. 

Differences Between Rope Jumping and Running

Generally, rope jumping will be your go-to workout if you suffer from any form of musculoskeletal issue like joint pain, even though it is still a high-impact exercise. That is because you go through a smaller range of motion when skipping rope than running.

On the other hand, running offers the same benefits and does most of that at a higher level. Still, incorporating both exercises into your routine could prove fun and advantageous in the long run. 

Is jump rope better than running? 

You would not be wrong to say jumping rope is a better exercise than running, especially when the goal is to burn as many calories as possible within a short period. 

The constant up and down motion with jumping rope quickly elevates your heart and metabolic rate, allowing you to expend a decent amount of energy in a short span. However, the caloric difference is not enough to scale jump rope higher than running. 

Overall, the important thing is to pick which exercise you are most comfortable with, one that  fits perfectly into your routine and helps you achieve your fitness goal quickly. You can enlist the help of a personal trainer if you are not sure how to go about it.

Is jumping rope good cardio compared to running? 

Yes, jumping rope is as good a cardio exercise as running. It checks all the boxes of a proper cardiovascular workout, including raising heart and metabolic rate, building muscle strength, toning muscles, and burning calories.

However, you must exercise caution when doing your jump rope workout. Better still, get help from a certified personal trainer. That is because, like running, it is a high-impact exercise, and doing so carelessly could quickly result in leg injuries. 

Which Burns More Calories?

For most people, the number of calories they burn while engaging in specific exercises is a huge reason for including it in their routine. This is generally a factor of their fitness goal, i.e., attaining a healthy weight or improving body composition.

Consistent running or jump rope guarantees that you burn significant calories over a predetermined period. However, you should note that several factors determine how much calorie burning takes place while you exercise, the most prominent being your weight, age, and sex.

To make things simpler, we have provided a table below that displays the calories burned when you run versus when you jump ropethe data is based on individuals of different weight classes exercising for 1 hour.

135 pounds155 pounds190 pounds
Jumping rope (slow)472563690
Jumping rope (moderate)590704863
Jumping rope (fast)7088441,035
Running (5mph)472563690
Running (7mph)679809992
Running (10mph)9441,1261,380

Surprisingly, just a few minutes of jumping rope burns more calories than running once you pick up the intensity.

Muscle Gain Comparison

Another factor that may influence your choice of exercise is which of them trumps when it comes to muscle gain. Both exercises utilize the same muscle groups: the lower body muscles take care of propulsion while the core muscles handle upper body stabilization.

Still, running results in more leg muscle engagement as it demands a greater range of motion and increased use for your glutes. On the other hand, the resistance from jumping rope offers more stimulation for your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and arm flexor grip.

But jumping rope becomes easier when you get into a rhythm, unlike running. Your arms stay positioned by your side, and you barely get to swing them to move the rope. To counter this, you will want to invest in a weighted rope, which constantly keeps tension on your arms and shoulders.

Aerobic Variation

For the most part, people classify both running and rope jumping as aerobic exercises, but that is farther from the truth. Both exercises can make use of either the aerobic or anaerobic energy system, not just your aerobic energy system, depending on the nature of your workout.  

When we talk about aerobic exercises, we mainly refer to exercises that make use of oxygen and last over extended periods. These exercises generally boost cardiovascular endurance.

A great example would be the long run.

On the other hand, anaerobic exercises revolve around short, intense bursts of physical activity fueled by energy stored in your muscles. Excellent examples include sprints and high-intensity interval training; they help increase lactate threshold and VO2 max. 

According to the International Sports Science Association, you can build muscles efficiently by utilizing both energy systems when carrying out either exercise.

In the aerobic state, they help train your slow-twitch muscle fibers, allowing you to carry out physical activities over prolonged periods. Training in the anaerobic state works out your fast-twitch muscle fibers, increasing muscle strength and power.

Which Exercise Is Better for Heart Health?

Rope jumping and running are excellent for boosting cardiovascular health. As we all know, a cardiovascular workout increases your heart rate, raises oxygen levels, and increases blood flow throughout the body. 

Nevertheless, one study showed that jumping rope is a better heart exercise than running. In that regard, you get fatigued more easily when you jump rope than when you run. 

According to the American Heart Association, frequent exercising has a net positive effect on reducing cardiovascular disease. That includes battling a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, abnormal values for blood lipids, smoking, and obesity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises weekly. They are free to go up to 300 minutes to gain even more health benefits.

Still, both jumping rope and running exercise at moderate to high intensity will strengthen your heart muscle and lower your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or another heart disease. It also increases cardiovascular endurance, allowing you to take on physical activities for longer periods without feeling winded.

Which Is Better for Toning Muscles?

Both exercises are great for toning muscles, especially the leg muscles, since they are both leg-dominant exercises.

Engaging in different running variations is a surefire way of developing the different muscle groups that power your stride. Regular running, such as sprints, targets your quads, hamstrings, and calves, increasing muscle strength and tone. 

Running on inclines or uneven surfaces increases the stimulation of these muscle groups, which leads to a drastic increase in muscle size, tone, and strength. You even get a firm butt when you run.

On the other hand, jumping rope works not only on your legs but your upper body as well. For your leg muscles, it isolates your calves and quads, and the repetitive bouncing targets and tones those muscles significantly.

Furthermore, the resistance from the rope helps tone your arms and shoulders while stimulating your core muscles.

Overall, both exercises give your muscles a defined look that is evident in most athletes.

Budget Comparison

Both jumping rope and running are relatively cheap exercises, especially compared to a host of other workout types. 

Aside from the general workout gear, you do not need any special equipment to get the job done. A good running shoe costs about $100 and running clothes at about $50.

With jumping rope, all you need is a high-quality jump rope, which usually sells for less than $100 (you may decide to go for a weighted rope to increase the resistance). 

If running is your thing, you will have to decide if you want to run outside or on a treadmill. If you are running outside, you might decide to buy ankle weights for around $25.

Injury Prevention

One could argue that the best option when it comes to preventing lower leg injuries would be jump rope since you go through a smaller range of motion. However, that is not all that meets the eye. 

In reality, both exercises are high-impact, meaning they induce a high level of stress on your joints. Research shows that the impact force exerted by both exercises is nearly identical. 

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, knee and ankle injuries are one of the biggest disadvantages of running. People with sensitive joints make a conscious effort to avoid running and many other weight-bearing exercises. 

An excellent way to prevent running-related injuries is to run on predictable, even surfaces like grass, tightly-packed gravel, and asphalt. These surfaces allow you to maintain your running rhythm and help reduce the overall injury rate.

You can also switch from running outdoors to indoor running. Treadmills are generally low-impact; as such, you are able to lessen the strain on your joints, maintain running variety, and improve running performance.

The same rule also applies to jumping rope. Skipping on a predictable surface such as grass reduces the impact on your knees and ankles.

If both exercises are too much on your joints, you should check out walking or cycling. These exercises offer similar health benefits while taking the load off your joints.


Is jumping rope equivalent to running 1 mile?

When looking at time constraints, jumping rope for 10 minutes equals running an 8-minute mile.

How long should I jump rope for cardio?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the physical activity guideline that stated that healthy adults need 150 to 300 minutes of aerobic activity weekly. Therefore, 30 minutes of jumping rope over a 5-day span is all you need.

Is jump rope low-impact?

No, jumping rope is not low-impact. In fact, the stress on your lower body from the impact is similar to that felt when running.

A Word From Our Coach

Jumping rope and running are similar cardio workouts that require little to no equipment, burn identical amounts of calories, engage different muscle groups, and improve cardiovascular health.

Doing either or both exercises will tremendously impact your physical and mental well-being. Still, exercising caution when working out is key to overall success. Both exercises are high impact; hence you need the proper form to reduce the level of injury.

As such, check in with a medical expert or NASM-certified personal trainer to determine which option is best for you. Then again, pair your jump rope or running workouts with weight lifting and plyometric exercises. The combination creates a well-balanced workout program and fast-tracks your fitness goal.


In summary, the jumping rope vs. running debate is a negligible one as both are excellent cardio exercises. Both of them are inexpensive, accessible, burn relatively the same amount of calories, build and tone muscle, and lower cardiovascular disease risks. 

Aside from the evident physical benefits, they both improve mental health, acting as stress relievers, promoting positive mood, creativity, and better sleep quality.

Choosing to do both exercises is no problem at all, as long as your fitness level allows it. Once again, you need to prioritize your health and safety as they become increasingly important as you grow older.

Eat healthily, drink lots of fluid, and follow your fitness routine consistently.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: January 30, 2023
8 min read 1497 Views 0 Comments

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