Jumping jacks go way back. That’s what I love most about this traditional exercise. You probably learned how to do the jumping jack while in elementary school. It’s a basic exercise that most anyone can perform, and can be modified to fit any fitness style needed — even for the newest exerciser.
What are jumping jacks good for? Jumping jacks are a classic type of calisthenics-style exercise that gets the whole body moving. It can be used as a warmup exercise to help get the blood pumping and the muscles warm and ready for a workout, or it can be part of a full-body workout, such as interval training, bootcamp, a HIIT-style workout and even on a trampoline.
Jumping jacks, sometimes called star jumps, require full-body movement. The movement is great for getting the heart rate up. The abduction and adduction of the legs and arms add the benefits of all-over body toning. Jumping jacks can be modified for the newest exerciser by eliminating the jump, to the most advanced by adding a squat and jumping as high as possible. This is known as a power jack.
Whatever style you choose, jumping jacks are amazing for gaining and maintaining fitness, reducing obesity, helping reduce the risk of osteoporosis, improving the cardiovascular system, increasing stamina and much more. (1, 2)
How to Do Jumping Jacks
A jumping jack can take a few forms, but here is how to do a basic jumping jack:
Step 1: Stand up straight, with your feet together and your hands down by your side.
Step 2: Jump your feet out to the side while raising your arms to the side and above your head.
Step 3: In one fluid motion, jump back to the starting position by lowering the arms and jumping the feet back together. That is one jumping jack.
Step 4: Continue this sequence as needed based on your workout. Typically, jumping jacks are done in sets or based on time. To do this, keep moving in a continuous motion, repeating the sequence until you accomplish your set or time goal, depending on the workout.
Benefits of Jumping Jacks
1. Great for Strong Bones
There has been a lot of controversy and speculation over the years about what exercise actually strengthen bones. Weightlifting is one way to do this, but some researchers suggest that quick jumping bursts can also do the trick. That means jumping jacks may be the perfect exercise for stronger bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
What happens is that the bones bend a little with each jumping motion, forcing new cell development. It’s the new cell creation that offers up more support for the bones, ultimately strengthening them. The good news is that you may not need to do a lot— just a little bit of explosive activity can lend itself to stronger bones. A study found that subjects who induced jumping for a certain period of time enjoyed more bone mass; therefore, stronger bones. (3, 4)
2. Good for The Heart
Jumping jacks offer benefits to combat heart disease. With as many as 250,000 heart-related deaths each year in the U.S., making cardio exercise like jumping jacks a part of your daily fitness routine seems like a no brainer.
If you are new to jumping activities, you definitely want to take it slow, and start with the modified no-jumping version if needed. Regardless, over time you will get stronger. This is key numerous experts in the field of fitness and wellness, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA). The 1996 US Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, shared scientific evidence that links regular physical activity to various measures of cardiovascular health.” (5)
3. Help Spark Weight Loss
It’s important to get the proper amount of exercise every week. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that you slowly and safely work up to doing about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity weekly. Another option is to combine the two. Jumping jacks offer the perfect fit for this recommendation. They can help you achieve and maintain your weight over time, as long as you are consistent. This activity, combined with a smart and healthy eating plan, can make a huge difference in helping you reach your goals. (6)
4. Could Help You Lose Belly Fat
While strength training with weights and specific abdominal exercises can help with visceral body fat, high-intensity exercise can really make a difference. Pairing smart caloric intake and regular, moderate-intensity exercise can help you burn more calories, reducing belly fat. (7, 8)
5. Help Increase Stamina
Stamina is what gives us the ability to combat fatigue and fight disease. Stamina helps us experience physical activity for longer periods of time. If you are new to exercise, you may notice feeling tired very quickly, but with time and commitment, you can build your stamina to be able to withstand exercise of physical activity longer.
This is important to your health because it improves the function of our muscles and can help with everyday activities, such as carrying a bag of groceries, much easier. While this may not seem important to our youth, it usually starts to affect mature adults at some point.
The development of healthy stamina comes from the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen. For anyone dealing with disease, having stamina is of greater important since it can be more difficult to perform many activities, and it can even help prevent back problems as you age. (9) (10)
6. Reduce Risk of Many Health Conditions
Jumping jacks fit in the category of aerobic exercise. In addition to helping with obesity, strong bones and heart disease, aerobic exercise helps reduce the risk of numerous health conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke and even some forms of cancer.
Studies show that regular physical activity can help reduce the development of disease, such as colon cancer, but nearly 40 percent. (11, 12) There is plenty of evidence showing how regular physical activity is a great preventive measure of many chronic diseases. In fact, studies suggest that is is directly related to the reduced risk of an early death. (13)
Jumping Jack Circuit Workout
When performing any exercise, remember to maintain proper form. If at any time, you feel any pain, stop immediately. If you are new to exercise, it is important to take it slow.
For this workout, you will need a timer or some way to track your time. The workout consist of 3-4 sets of 6 exercises performed for 1 minute each, followed by 15 seconds of rest and 1 minute of rest between each exercise.
Perform each exercise for 60 seconds
- Step side to side starting with your left
- Knee lifts, left and right
- Half squats
- Grapevine, left and right
- Easy side lunges, left and right
Perform each exercise for 60 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds between each exercise. Once you have completed one set, rest for 60 seconds. Repeat for a total of 3 to 4 sets.
- Jumping Jacks
- Deep Squats
- Jumping Jacks
- Plank Push Ups
- Jumping Jacks
How to Do the Exercises
Stand with feet a little more than hip distance apart. Arms at your side. Begin by jumping your feet out the sides while raising your arms to the side, to a level above your head, then returning to the start Do this in one continuous movement. If you want to make a little harder, perform a power jack by going into a half squat each time you land and by jumping as high as you can each time you jump.
Beginner Jumping Jacks
Instead of jumping, step one foot at a time out to the side while raising your arms.
Stand with feet hip distance apart, keeping your abs tight. Lower into a squat by sticking your glutes back as if sitting in a chair (while keeping your upper body upright). Go as low as you can, trying to get your quads parallel to the ground. As you return to your starting position, squeeze the glutes. Try to put all of your weight in your heels as you perform this exercise.
Do half squats by starting in the same position, but instead of going all the way down to the parallel position, only go half way, then return to the starting position. Again, make sure to squeeze your glutes on the way up and keep your weight in your heels throughout the exercise.
Plank Alternating Push-ups
To perform this exercise, get in push-up position, keeping elbows slightly bent and hands directly under the shoulders. Make sure your body is straight from your head to your feet. To help, slightly tuck the hips and squeeze the abs.
Now, lower to the forearms, starting with the left arm. Once both arms are bent and you are on both forearms, lift back up to starting position by pushing up with the right hand. Continue this sequence, alternating arms.
Beginner Plank Alternating Push-ups
Perform the above exercise, but on the knees instead of the toes. Make sure to keep the neck and back aligned.
Stand with one foot forward in a lunge position keeping your front knee at a 90 degree angle and upper body upright. Lunge as low as possible, but without the back knee touching the floor, then return to the starting position and repeat in a continuous movement.
Perform 30 seconds on each leg. To make it harder, you can do jumping lunges. To do this, start in the same position. Keeping your balance, jump to switch your foot positioning by taking the front foot back and the back foot to the front, much like scissor jumps but with a deep lunge. You can use your arms to assist in the jumping motion. For example, when the left foot is forward, the right arm will be forward. It should be natural. Make sure to land softly, switching in a continuous movement.
Perform in the same way as the static lunge, but instead of going all the way down, go about halfway, then returning to the start.
Risks of Jumping Jacks
As I noted above, make sure you start slowly if you are new to exercise. Make sure you warm up before any exercise and do some stretching after any exercise. Check with your doctor before performing any exercise, especially if you have any disease or are pregnant.
Final Thoughts on Jumping Jacks
- Jumping jacks increasing stamina, bone density and improve your heart.
- Start off slowly, even with no-jump jacks.
- Consult a trained fitness expert for a program that is right for you.