We track down the A to Zs of jumping jacks.
Fitness experts often recommend jumping jacks as an essential part of a workout. And rightly so, as most rigorous calisthenics - including jumping jacks - do more than just burn calories. They also function as cardiovascular, strengthening and stress-relieving exercises.
Jumping jacks engage all the large muscle groups to provide a full-body workout. By breathing deeply you can engage your core and target your abdominal muscles as well. However, one must note that jumping jacks do have their limitations. For instance, they will not give you any noticeable improvements in strength or muscle mass when compared to a specialized weightlifting routine.
Primarily used for warming up before a fitness activity, jumping jacks are a great way to loosen muscles and tendons and get the blood flowing. However, they can also be an efficient form of cardiovascular training if performed for at least 15 minutes regularly without stopping.
How to do it: Stand straight with the feet together and arms at the sides. Jump up and simultaneously spread the legs (about shoulder width apart) and raise the arms high over the head until they almost touch. Keep the hands open with palms facing away. Bring the feet back together and lower the arms to the sides. Repeat.
Experts recommend doing 10-100 repetitions at 30 second intervals. (This is dependent on one’s fitness level.)
Tone it down:Half-jacks reduce the strain on the shoulders while still engaging them. They are performed the same way with the exception of the arm movement. Arms are only brought parallel to the shoulders and back down.
Tone it up: Increasing the pace and time period is a good way to raise the intensity of the workout. Advanced jumping jacks - performing the exercise while holding lightweight dumbbells - are another option.
Increases the heart rate which leads to burning more calories and fat.
Improves blood circulation.
Increases the metabolic rate which is essential to maintain ideal body weight.
Improves the cardiovascular system, helping reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.
Builds endurance and strengthens the muscles.
Helps improve mobility and circulation if done regularly. Also improves the flexibility of the body.
Makes the bones stronger and denser and reduces the chances of getting osteoporosis.
Promotes general wellness and enhances one’s mood.
While simple to do, jumping jacks can be strenuous too. And if performed carelessly, can risk injury to the knees, back, hips, shoulders and elbows. If you are a beginner or have weak joints, the risk of injury is greater. Overdoing it can also lead to injury as the same muscles are being repeatedly stressed. Here are a few things to keep in mind to avoid injuries.
Wear appropriate footwear. Shock absorbing sports shoes are ideal. Shoes should be well-fitted and comfortable.
Opt for a levelled surface to exercise on.
It is advisable to stretch the arms, lower back and legs before beginning.
Focus more on form rather than speed.
Don’t lock the knees when exercising.
Always land with the knees slightly bent so that the muscles are receiving the impact rather than the joints.
Avoid rounding the back and popping the knees out.
People who are overweight should opt for moderately paced jumping jacks with knee support to avoid aggravating the knees.
If you experience pain in the shoulders, knees or ankles, slow down until you feel better. If the pain persists, stop immediately.
It is important to stay hydrated when performing any kind of strenuous activity, especially exercises like jumping jacks.
If you have an extensive history with injuries, it is best to consult your physician before trying out jumping jacks.
Listening to upbeat music when exercising can boost your energy and add a little fun to your workout.
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