Kettlebells are modified weights with handles that allow users to move a muscle through its entire range of motion. This can quickly build strength and muscle tone. Jumping rope, by contrast, is a form of cardiovascular exercise that also helps to work the calves and lower body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that strength-training exercises such as those used with kettlebells and aerobic exercise such as jumping rope are an important part of any physical fitness routine.
Benefits of Kettlebells
You can use kettlebells in resistance-based training to build strong muscles. Unlike traditional weights, kettlebells are swung rather than lifted and allow you to extend and strengthen large muscle groups. Some kettlebell practitioners use kettlebells to engage in cardiovascular exercise, and you also can perform high-intensity swinging reps of kettlebells. Because this form of exercise can be taxing, it's generally not a good choice for people who are new to strength training. According to Dr. Ben Fung, a physical therapist, regular kettlebell exercise may help to reduce muscle pain, particularly in the back.
Jumping Rope Benefits
Jumping rope provides cardiovascular exercise. As you jump, your muscles require more blood to keep your body moving. To fill this need, the heart pumps more quickly and more forcefully, increasing blood pressure and pulse. Over time, this form of exercise can strengthen your heart and lungs, and may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, cardiovascular exercise such as jumping rope works large groups of muscles and can effectively burn calories.
Drawbacks of Kettlebells
Kettlebells have a steeper learning curve than traditional weights. Improper use can cause serious joint and muscle injuries, and because kettlebells are swung rather than lifted, your likelihood of dropping one is increased. Although some practitioners use kettlebells as part of their aerobic routine, standard kettlebell exercises don't provide much cardiovascular exercise.
Jumping Rope Drawbacks
The most significant risk of jumping rope is a joint injury. Jumping and landing on hard surfaces can cause knee and ankle pain, and may even hurt your back. For this reason, rope jumpers should consult their doctors before beginning a new fitness routine and should always jump on even surfaces. Jumping rope also carries a risk of falling or tripping over the rope. If you're jumping on concrete, this can cause bruises, cuts and scrapes.
Both strength training and cardiovascular exercise are important parts of a fitness routine. The CDC recommends that adults engage in two days of strength-training per week and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. If you jump rope very quickly, this may be high-intensity exercise, which you should engage in for a minimum of 75 minutes per week. Because cardiovascular exercise plays such an important role in heart and overall health, if you do not have time for both forms of exercise, focus on jumping rope and incorporate strength training when you can.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.