February is Heart Month---not only because of Valentine’s Day and romantic gestures that make our hearts flutter. It’s Heart Health Month--the one month out of the year that we bring extra attention and focus to heart health. Aside from eating smart, maintaining the age-recommended cholesterol levels and establishing healthy sleeping patterns, one of the best ways to improve our heart health is cardiovascular exercise. Well, it’s cold outside. Maybe you don’t belong to a gym or even like going to the gym, and there’s no money in the budget for home exercise equipment. No worries, we have the answer…jumping jacks!
Jumping jacks may remind some of us of our childhood-- imagine gym class back in elementary school. What’s more, some of us may have not attempted one since then. But jumping jacks are a great cardiovascular workout that should not be overlooked. They work both the heart and lungs—training them to get stronger. A stronger heart results in a lower resting heart rate and lower blood pressure. Stronger lungs absorb more oxygen, process more of it and send it to the rest of your body. Bottom line—not only will they strengthen your heart and lungs, but you will feel better as these organs develop. (11 Benefits of Jumping Jacks That Will Have you Jumping All Day, n.d.)
Jumping jacks are also beneficial for bone health. Each of the 206 bones in our body provides structure, support and allows us to move. They also protect our brain and our organs from injury, including the heart. As we get older, it is important to improve bone density which we naturally lose as we age. When the loss is substantial, we put ourselves at risk for osteoporosis—a disease that weakens our bones making them more susceptible to breakage. Research has shown that jumping just 10 times a day can significantly mitigate that loss and increase bone density. (Brady, 2017)
So, the benefits are clear. Jumping jacks are a total body workout accessible at no cost and can be done just about anywhere. They work your legs, your stomach and your arms all the while increasing your metabolism. Incorporating this exercise into our daily workout seems like a no-brainer. Not quite. Yes, we want the heart to be stronger and yes, jumping jacks will elevate the heart rate, but safety first. The American Heart Association advises that a 30-year-old target heart rate zone during moderate activity should be 95-162 beats per minute while a 40-year-old is to 90 to 153 beats per minute. Therefore, you might want to first schedule that annual physical you have been putting off to identify any potential health issues. It is always recommended to meet with your physician to discuss any possible risks before initiating a new workout regime. (Thompson, n.d.)
So, check your age and your target heart rate and track yourself. Then…get ready for our February Jumping Jack Challenge! See the attached, printable Jumping Jack Challenge and follow along. If you can’t do traditional jumping jacks, there are modifications out there, so use Google and do your homework before you jump in. Get it? Jump in…pun intended.
11 Benefits of Jumping Jacks That Will Have you Jumping All Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from Fitandme.com: https://www.fitandme.com/benefits-of-jumping-jacks/
Brady, S. (2017, May 10). National Osteoporosis Month: Take the Jumping Jack Challenge. Retrieved from nurturedbones.com: https://nurturedbones.com/national-osteoporosis-month-take-the-jumping-jack-challenge/
Thompson, V. (n.d.). livehealthy.chron.com. Retrieved from Why Does the Number of Jumping Jacks You Do Increase Your Heart Rate: https://livehealthy.chron.com/number-jumping-jacks-increase-heart-rate-8733.html