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Jumping Jacks

I can’t quite remember when I did my first Jumping Jack. I do know that it was a very long time ago, and that they don’t seem to get any easier.

According to some sources, the Jumping Jack was invented by General Black Jack Pershing during World War I. Other sources say it was named after a children’s toy that made similar body motions. Regardless, it is an effective exercise.

The primary benefit of doing Jumping Jacks is that it elevates the heart rate and the result is improved cardiovascular fitness. There are also strengthening benefits because you are using muscles to move your body against gravity. And improved coordination and balance can be added to the list of benefits, making the Jumping Jacks a well-rounded exercise.

Typically a Jumping Jack is done by starting in a standing position with your legs together and your arms held at the sides of your body. The next step is to bend your knees slightly and jump vertically and then spread your legs and lift your arms over your head before you land on your feet, softly, on the ground. Then jump back to the starting position to finish one repetition.

The beauty of this exercise is that it can be modified in several ways to make it easier or more difficult. Here are some ideas:

  • To make it easier, step to the right while lifting your arms, and then step back to the starting position. Repeat with a step to the left.
  • If raising your arms over your head is a problem due to an injury lift them as far as you comfortably can.
  • To challenge your strength, hold a light weight in each hand.
  • To challenge your coordination raise your hands in front of you use as you jump your legs out to the side.

As with all body weight exercises, Jumping Jacks can be done almost anywhere. Build them into your day. Doing 5 to 10 will increase blood flow without working up a sweat. They would be perfect way to break up your day at the office.

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