Jumping jacks are a plyometric aerobic exercise, which means they increase speed, quickness, and power by moving your whole body. Most plyometric exercises include jumping so your muscles exert the most effort and force in short bursts of time.
As you jump, you’re working against the force of gravity and use the weight of your body for resistance. The constant repetition of the moves increases your heart rate, which in turn, increases the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches the muscles. By combining strength work with stamina jumping jacks incorporate your entire body.
Jumping jacks elevate your heart rate and this improves cardiovascular fitness. A 2006 study examined the improvement of cardiovascular health in obese men who took part in a 4-week high-intensity training program, which included jumping jacks. The participants saw improvements in their resting heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, and body fat levels. The improvement was comparable to that of men in much longer-duration circuit, resistance training, and aerobic exercise programs.
The intensity of jumping jacks makes them an efficient boost for heart health, however, they should be mixed in with another conditioning exercise, according to Jonathan Mike, a professor of exercise science and sports performance at Grand Canyon University in Arizona. As jumping jacks alone are not sustainable for a long duration, you can incorporate them with a cardio workout like cycling.
Related: Best Aerobic Exercises for Weight Loss
Like many other jumping exercises jumping jacks were found to be beneficial for bone health. As you perform each jumping jack, the muscles actually pull at the bones of the body which strengthens the bones and increases their density.
We tend to lose bone density as we age, so improving it is extremely important. If the loss is significant, osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and makes them more likely to break, can occur. Jumping jack help mitigate this loss and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
How to perform jumping jacks correctly
1. Stand up starting with your arm down by your sides.
2. Bend your knees slightly and jump up.
3. As you jump, spread your legs to about shoulder-width apart and stretch your arms out and over your head, so they almost clap together.
4. Return to the starting position and repeat.
If you feel like jumping up and down is putting too much pressure on your joints and isn’t physically possible for you, you may try this modified version of jumping jacks:
1. Start by standing up straight with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
2. Raise your arms up over your head and extend your right foot to the side. Return to the starting position.
3. Bring your arms back to your sides, then raise them up again and extend your left foot to the side.
4. Repeat this motion, alternating feet each time you raise your arms overhead.
The video below demonstrates this exercise:
In conclusion, adding jumping jacks to your cardio routine is very easy and beneficial to your heart fitness and overall health. Start with two sets of 10 jumping jacks, and eventually, you'll be able to work your way up to more as you gain stamina and strength. It’s best to alternate days so you give your muscles a chance to recover. Another safety tips to remember are to jump on a flat even surface, wear supportive athletic shoes, and listen to your body - stop if you experience any kind of pain. Happy exercising!
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