You probably learned how to do a jumping jack in elementary gym class. But just because they're basic doesn't mean this calisthenic exercise isn't beneficial when practiced on a regular basis as a warm-up or as part of a regular aerobic fitness program. Jumping jacks are a simple way to get your heart rate up and your muscles warmed, and they don't require any extra equipment.
Warm up with a light cardio exercise, such as a brisk walk or brief jog. After your warm-up, stretch before you begin your more strenuous workout that includes jumping jacks. Because you will use many of your major muscle groups, stretch your arms, legs, back and core muscles.
Stand with your arms at your sides and your feet planted together. Straighten your back by tightening your abdominal muscles.
Bend at the knees and jump, lifting both feet off the ground. Spread your legs so that your feet are wider than your shoulders. Land on the balls of your feet. As you jump, simultaneously raise both arms over your head.
Jump a second time, this time bringing your legs back together to the starting position. Lower your arms at the same time, returning them to your sides.
Repeat the jumping motions for eight to 12 reps, then rest before doing another set of eight to 12. As you improve your form and fitness, increase the numbers of reps and sets, as well as the speed at which you perform the jumping jacks.
Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.