Jumping jacks, as they are known in the American subcontinent, is an intensely physical jumping exercise. As the name suggests, it largely involves jumping – and therein lies the challenge! The name comes from the entertaining children’s toy jumping jack, a paper toy or wooden puppet which makes arm, leg and body motions similar to that of the exercise itself. The exercise first came into use around World War I, by a United States Army Officer who developed it.
Since then, it has been extensively used in military training the world over and has also found popularity as an exercise that has several benefits. The jumping jack is known under several names the world over; for instance, commonwealth nations and the United Kingdom refer to it as star jumps, because of the unique shape that is formed when one does a jumping jack.
1. Follow The Right Technique to do a Jumping Jack
2. Warming Up Before Jumping Jacks Are Important
3. Jumping Jacks Are Good For All Over Weight-Loss
4. Bone Density and Health Benefits Greatly From Jumping Jacks
5. Jumping Jacks Up The Ante When it Comes to Muscle Strength
6. Heart And Lung Capacity Increase, When Jumping Jacks Are Practised Regularly
7. Jumping Jacks Are Great to Reduce Stress, and Banish Insomnia
8. Take Care to Avoid Injuries While Doing Jumping Jacks
9. FAQs on Jumping Jacks
Follow The Right Technique to do a Jumping Jack
Like all exercises, when you’re working on a jumping jack, you need to be careful and get your technique right. Here’s how to start off. Stand straight, with your legs together, back upright and arms to the sides of your body. Slightly bending your knees, jump into the air, with your legs landing shoulder-distance apart. As you do this, your hands simultaneously move over your head, all the way up. Then maintaining the same momentum, jump back to the starting position, bringing your legs together and your hands down.
Take care that your hands don’t land hard the sides of your body. Instead, maintain control and bring them down gently – almost, but not quite touching your hips. Do as many reps as possible for optimum benefit. A beginner can ideally start with about three sets of 10 jumping jacks each, spaced out with other low impact exercises. Work your way up gradually, aiming for at least 25-30 reps at a stretch on a regular basis.
Pro tip: Focus on getting your jumping jack technique right, to optimise health benefits.
Warming Up Before Jumping Jacks Are Important
While jumping jacks themselves are recommended as one of the best warm-up exercises before cardio, it is best that beginners don’t plunge into them without a little pre-warm up. Before doing jumping jacks, do 10-12 squats, to get your thigh and leg muscles going, then follow it up with 5-6 side and forward lunges on each side.
You can also do a few high-knees before you get started. If you’re a complete fitness novice, it is best to take advice from a professional trainer before you incorporate jumping jacks into your exercise routine. Either way, listen to your body and make sure it is adequately prepped for the impact of jumping jacks.
Pro tip: Warm up the arm and leg muscles before trying out jumping jacks.
Jumping Jacks Are Good For All Over Weight-Loss
One of the key benefits of jumping jacks is that they are the ultimate cardio exercise! They are part of an exercise stream called ‘plyometrics’, also known as jump training. This combines the best in cardio, along with resistance. Most jumping exercises like skipping, burpees, squat jumps and box jumps also fall within this category.
Jumping jacks work on the entire body, making for a great exercise that contributes to weight loss all over. It works on the legs, abdomen and belly area and arms, allowing for weight loss in these areas. They increase your metabolism and burn a whole lot of calories. If you’re able to get to half an hour of jumping jacks every day (even if they’re staggered), you’re likely to burn as many as a whopping 200 calories!
Pro tip: Try jumping jacks to burn calories and lose inches all over the body.
Bone Density and Health Benefits Greatly From Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks are a great way to improve bone density and health. The bones are kept stronger when you do this exercise on a regular basis, and the bone mass is kept intact. Jumping jacks are ideal to keep osteoporosis and osteoarthritis at bay. However, if you feel your knees are taking more impact than they can while jumping, keep them slightly bent, and try more gentle jumps to reduce the impact.
Pro tip: Keep osteoporosis at bay with jumping jacks.
Jumping Jacks Up The Ante When it Comes to Muscle Strength
Along with being a good cardio exercise, jumping jacks are also ideal to build stronger muscles. While they’re not as good as weights, they’re still one of the most effective cardio exercises. Your arms get a good workout and build muscle, as do your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves (your entire leg muscles in fact!). It also works the muscles on your core to a large extent, so you’re one step closer to a flat stomach!
Pro tip: Build muscle strength around your arms, legs and core with jumping jacks.
Heart And Lung Capacity Increase, When Jumping Jacks Are Practised Regularly
Like most cardio exercises, jumping jacks offer cardiovascular benefits. It balances out your heart rate, increases blood circulation all over the body, controls and maintains blood pressure, helps in doing away with bad cholesterol levels in the body, prevents the onset of stroke or heart attacks.
Along with cardiovascular benefits, jumping jacks also offer benefits to the lungs. Doing them on a regular basis slowly trains your lungs to expand their capacity, taking in more oxygen and increasing your threshold for physical activity.
Pro tip: Keep cardiovascular problems away with jumping jacks.
Jumping Jacks Are Great to Reduce Stress, and Banish Insomnia
Other than physical benefits, jumping jacks also offer emotional and mental benefits. This intensive exercise releases endorphins naturally, which are hormones that keep stress and depression at bay. They also give you a good workout and keep sleeplessness away.
Pro tip: Try jumping jacks for emotional and mental benefits.
Take Care to Avoid Injuries While Doing Jumping Jacks
While jumping jacks are a great exercise with a multitude of benefits, it is advisable to take a few precautions to make sure you’re getting it right. Use a flat, even service, rather than an undulating one which could interfere in the impact. Avoid cement if possible. Wear proper shoes, with shock absorbers.
Don’t let your technique slack if you’re tired – instead, take a break and restart if you need to. Listen to your body, and if you feel it’s not working for you due to pain or injuries, stop the exercise and get help from a qualified trainer on how to remedy it.
Pro tip: Use the right shoes and the right workout surface to do jumping jacks.
FAQs on Jumping Jacks
Q. How does one avoid rotator cuff injuries in the shoulder, while doing jumping jacks?
A. The easiest and best way to avoid shoulder injuries (since jumping jacks involve extensive use of the arms and shoulders), is to try half jacks. These are exactly the same as the regular jumping jacks, but you’re allowed to hit your arms against the sides of your body when they come down, and take it only halfway up instead of all the way up over your head.
Q. Are power jacks a more intense version of jumping jacks?
A. What exactly are power jacks, and why are they a notch above the traditional jumping jacks? Power jacks are almost the same, with an added dimension. Here, the person has to squat to the lowest possible level he or she can while landing, and aiming to jump as high as possible during each repetition.
Q. Who holds the record for the highest jumping jacks?
A. The record for the most number of jumping jacks in the world (within a minute) is held by two people. Brandon Gatto of the USA did a whopping 97 in 2011, and Mario Silvestri of Italy equalled this feat in 2018.
Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculator