Postpartum Cardio: Jumping Rope - My Newest Obsession

Prior to my pregnancy I was an avid runner. I incorporated sprint intervals into my weekly program and would do long distance runs on the weekend by the beach. However, when Natalie was born I didn’t return to running because I never purchased a jogging stroller. When I started working out postpartum, if I wanted to run, I had to do it on the weekend when my husband could watch her so for a while my only means of cardio was walking.

I will admit that I tried running one day while I was pushing Natalie in her Graco Modes Click Connect stroller, but that was short lived and lasted maybe three blocks. Running with a stroller that has plastic tires and no shock absorbency, on uneven terrain, is a no-no. I could invest in a B.O.B. or any other jogging stroller, but I honestly don’t want to spend the money (they are so expensive) and it's just another piece of baby equipment that would take over my apartment here in Santa Monica.

I recently started thinking about my cardio program and how I could get my heart rate up and get sweaty without running. That’s when it came to me - jumping rope! Fun fact, jumping for 10-minutes can roughly be equivalent to running an 8-minute mile so I went to the local Dick’s Sporting Goods, bought myself a jump rope for $9.99, and headed to the Santa Monica bluffs and started jumping.

Jumping rope, jump rope, cardio, outdoor workout
‍Malibu Bluffs Park (top: Lorna Jane; bottoms: Lululemon)
Fun fact aside, there are other reasons why jumping rope has become my latest obsession and why I think postpartum women should consider it:
  1. Total Body Burner – You not only tone your calves, but jumping rope will strengthen your legs, butt, core, and arms. Since it requires you to activate both the upper and lower muscles of the body you burn more calories! You don’t have to jump for 30 minutes straight to reap the benefits of this exercise. Break up your time into 2-3 minute intervals and increase the intensity of your strength training workouts by incorporating this into your next circuit program.
  2. Less Stress on Body – I don’t know about you, but as I age I can feel my body ache in my hips, low back, and knees from running. With jumping rope, because you are only lifting off the ground a few inches, there is less stress on the joints and you can avoid knee damage since the impact is shared with both feet.
  3. Increase Bone Density – Something to keep in mind as we age is bone loss and as women we are more likely to develop osteoporosis in our later years. By the age of 40, our bodies will slowly begin to lose bone mass and once we hit menopause, we’ll likely lose about 20% of our bone mass within 5-7 years. One way to increase bone density is through high-impact exercise where your body works against gravity. The impact of landing with force encourages the bones to build more mass.  
  4. Affordable & Portable – Jump ropes can start at $6.99 and run up to $29.99 depending on the brand, fabric and if they are weighted or non-weighted ropes. Their compact and lightweight which makes them a great piece of equipment that you can carry in your bag, toss in the bottom of the stroller when you go to the park, or even take with you when you travel. 

Trust me when I say it won’t be easy at first. I tripped over myself several times in the beginning and still do. Start off with jumping for a total of 10-minutes and slowly work your way up to 30-minutes. For me, I prefer to incorporate jumping into my circuit workout. I’ll perform 3 circuits, with 3 rounds in each circuit, and jumping is the first exercise. I'll jump for 2-3 minutes followed by strength and core exercises. By the end of the entire circuit I’ve jumped 25-30 minutes total and have worked up a sweat.

SWITCH IT UP WITH VARIATIONS

Once you've found your rhythm switch up your footwork to keep it challenging and so you don't get bored.

Side-to-side - After the rope passes, split your legs like you are doing a jumping jack. On the next hop bring your feet together.

One-Legged Hop - Try hopping on one leg for 20 counts then switch to the other leg for 20 counts. You can alternate back and forth or do a countdown - 20, 10, 5, and then move into my next favorite variation.

High Knees - You're basically running in place and bringing the knees to waist level. This is challenging but a great way to increase your heart rate and it works your lower abdominals at the same time. 

If you’re looking to switch up your cardio program, or you’re a postpartum Mom looking to sweat without investing in a jogging stroller, try jumping rope. If you trip up, stop, reset, and get back at it. All it takes is a little practice and eventually you’ll be jumping for minutes straight with no problem!

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