Jumping rope is an exercise of slightly higher impact than walking.
The knees can absorb a significant amount of stress during activities where you land after jumping or bounding. If you're already suffering from knee discomfort, but want to continue to be physically active, finding the right exercise is important for limiting pain. Both walking and jumping rope are safe exercises for those with healthy knees, but walking is a lower-impact activity and thus places less stress on your lower-body joints.
When you're walking, there's never a moment where your body is completely off the floor. As a result, walking is considered a low-impact activity, which means that the amount of stress placed on your knees is minimal. Dr. Lynn Millar of Andrews University recommends walking for those who are looking for an exercise that's easier on the knees.
Because you leave the floor entirely when jumping rope, the activity does place more stress on your knee joints than walking. However, according to The Jump Rope Institute, because you most commonly land from the jumps with both feet simultaneously, the amount of stress on your knees is absorbed by both legs and thus is significantly less than when running. According to Buddy Lee's book, вЂњJump Rope Training,вЂќ the jump rope is used for injury rehabilitation. Once a person is able to comfortably perform a low-impact activity like walking, biking or swimming, they will progress to jumping rope to improve coordination and strength. He adds that jump rope is still low impact as long as you are able to land softly.
Consistently participating in higher-impact exercises can cause damage to your knees over time. Within your knee joint is cartilage that helps absorb the impact between your femur and tibia bones. The repetitive stress that this cartilage takes when you do high-impact movements, like jogging, can eventually cause it to break down and suffer damage. Problems like patellofemoral stress syndrome, which is when the cartilage near your kneecap becomes irritated and inflamed, and iliotibial band syndrome, which is when the band rubs against the outside of the knee joint and causes pain, can occur.
If your knees can handle the stress of jumping rope, the exercise offers greater fitness benefits than walking. According to MayoClinic.com, a 160-pound person burns 861 calories when jumping rope for 60 minutes, and 314 calories walking at 3.5 mph for that same amount of time. In addition, while jumping rope does place more stress on your knee joints, this increase in impact means that it's an activity that's more effective for building and maintaining bone density. Due to physical activity and hormonal changes that occur with age, bone density levels naturally decrease, leaving bones susceptible to becoming brittle and weak. Exercises that are of higher impact stimulate bone growth.