While you may not have thought about jumping jacks since grade school, the health benefits of this simple move continue well into adulthood.
“Jumping jacks have a wealth of benefits like mobility, increased blood flow, training in the frontal plane, and overall joint motion,” says Jonathan Mike, a strength and conditioning coach and professor of exercise science and sports performance at Grand Canyon University in Arizona.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of jumping jacks and how you can incorporate them into your fitness routine.
Jumping jacks are a full body workout
Jumping jacks are a type of total body exercise that you can do anywhere, with no equipment.
More specifically, jumping jacks are a plyometric exercise. Plyometrics are explosive aerobic moves that increase speed, quickness, and power — and they work your whole body.
Most plyometric exercises include jumping, so your muscles exert the most effort and force in short bursts of time. Other plyometric exercises include:
Jumping jacks are beneficial to your health because they combine cardiovascular conditioning with strength work. As you jump, you’re working against gravity and using your body weight for resistance, which can improve strength. Plus, the constant repetition of the move gets your heart rate up and improves cardiovascular fitness.
Jumping jacks can improve heart health
Since jumping jacks elevate your heart rate, they can also improve your cardiovascular fitness.
A 2014 study in BioMed Research International found that a four week high-intensity circuit training program, which included jumping jacks, improved several heart health markers in obese men.
The participants saw improvements in their resting heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, and body fat levels. Interestingly, the improvements were comparable to those found in much longer-duration circuit, resistance training, and aerobic exercise programs.
Compared to other exercises that boost your cardiovascular fitness, jumping jacks can add more intensity. However, they should be mixed in with another conditioning exercise, says Mike. Jumping jacks alone are not sustainable for long durations, so it’s best to incorporate jumping jacks along with a cardio workout, like running or cycling.
Jumping jacks may strengthen bones
Many types of jump training — like jumping jacks — are also beneficial for your bone health.
For example, a 2006 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that young women who did a regimen of 10 vertical jumps three days a week for six months strengthened the bones in their legs, as well as their lower spine.
It’s important to improve bone density, or the strength of bones, because we naturally lose density as we age. If the loss is significant, osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and makes them more likely to break, can occur.
Jumping jacks help to mitigate this loss and can reduce the risk for osteoporosis later in life, particularly for girls and women.
How to do jumping jacks properly
As with any exercise, it’s important to ensure you do jumping jacks with proper form.
Stand up straight with your legs together and your arms down at your side.
Bend your knees slightly and jump.
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.
Jump again and return your arms and legs to the starting position.
You can add jumping jacks to your cardio routine for an extra boost to your workout, though it’s best to alternate days to give your muscles a chance to recover. 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.
Keep in mind the following safety tips to avoid injury:
Make sure you’re jumping on a flat, even surface.
Wear supportive, athletic shoes.
Listen to your body, and stop if you experience any pain.
Overall, jumping jacks bring a range of whole-body health benefits, and they’re simple to master. And unless you have an injury to your lower body that may prohibit this type of movement, they can be a highly effective move to add to your fitness routine.
Read the original article on Insider