Jumping Jacks Vs Running: Calorie Burn, Risks,…

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There are many exercises you can consider for your workouts. Find out how jumping jacks and running compare in a few important areas.

Jumping jacks and running are both activities that can help you train your cardiovascular health and burn calories to nice extents. At the same time, there are definitely also differences.

One of the benefits of jumping jacks is that you can do them inside. This makes you less dependent on the weather outside.

Additionally, jumping jacks engage muscles all over your body. This can be more helpful for improving endurance in certain areas and warming up for upper-body workouts.

On the other side, if you don’t mind freeing up a bit more time, running is great for improving cardiovascular health and burning calories in a short amount of time.

People who are sensitive to injuries and are carrying around a few extra pounds likely want to start with low-impact alternatives to jumping jacks and running.

One last thing to note is that enjoying your workout helps with consistency. Your personal preference will also play a role in deciding between these two exercises.

DetailJumping JacksRunning
Calories Burned*330+ calories293-494+ calories
Muscles WorkedUpper And Lower BodyMain Leg Muscles
Injury RiskMedium/HighMedium/High
Busy Schedule FriendlyVery GreatGood
Budget RequiredVery LowLow
Complexity To DoEasyEasy
Overview of jumping jacks vs running

*Approximation for a 155-pound (70 kg) person doing the exercise for 30 minutes

Calories burned jumping jacks vs running

One of the detail people tend to care a lot about is how jumping jacks and running compare in terms of burning calories. Below, you can find tables with rough estimations for each exercise.

Keep in mind that these are just rough estimations. In reality, the numbers can look different for you due to differences in body composition, hormone levels, exact speed, etc.

That being said, the estimations imply that running has more calorie-burning potential per minute than jumping jacks.

You can also experience this for yourself by trying to do jumping jacks at really high speeds. At some point, the arm movements involved hold you back from getting your heart rate up.

On the flip side, running at your maximum cardiovascular capacity is a lot easier to achieve.

Calories burned with jumping jacks

The estimations of the number of calories you burn while doing jumping jacks are not different for small changes in speed. Because of this, you can simply find the estimations for different time frames.

To learn more about how these amounts are calculated and how you can burn more, you can read the article on how many calories jumping jacks burn.

Weight Person
1 Minute15 Minutes30 Minutes45 Minutes60 Minutes
125 Pounds
(56 kg)
8 calories118 calories236 calories354 calories473 calories
155 Pounds
(70 kg)
10 calories146 calories293 calories439 calories586 calories
185 Pounds
(83 kg)
12 calories175 calories350 calories524 calories699 calories
215 Pounds
(97 kg)
14 calories203 calories406 calories610 calories813 calories
Calories burned with jumping jacks

Calories burned with running

Similarly, you can read the article on how many calories running burns to get the calculation method on how to increase this amount. This piece also includes estimations for different distances.

In terms of calories burned, about 500 jumping jacks (12 minutes of exercise) will be equal to running a mile at a speed of 5 mph (8.1 kmh).

Weight Person
(5 mph/8.1 kmh)
(6 mph/9.7 kmh)
(7 mph/11.3 kmh)
(8 mph/12.9 kmh)
125 Pounds
(56 kg)
245 calories289 calories325 calories348 calories
155 Pounds
(70 kg)
304 calories359 calories403 calories432 calories
185 Pounds
(83 kg)
363 calories428 calories481 calories516 calories
215 Pounds
(97 kg)
422 calories498 calories559 calories599 calories
Calories burned per 30 minutes of running at different speeds

Jumping jacks or running for fat loss

It is a common myth that you have to do specific exercises, stay at certain heart rates, or eat special foods to lose body fat and more specifically belly fat.

That being said, how much running and how many jumping jacks a day you should do to burn fat is not as precise as that.

First of all, you need to make it so your body starts using energy stores. Next, you have to get in a state where you start using body fat, not other energy stores.

And even if you get to this point, it depends on things like your genes and how far you are in your weight loss journey whether you will lose belly fat or fat from other areas.

At the same time, since running has more calorie-burning potential, that would also mean it is slightly better for fat loss than jumping jacks.

Muscles worked jumping jacks vs running

Jumping jacks and running are both exercises that will mainly work your cardiovascular system. That being said, you also still engage a variety of muscles to move.

You should not expect too much, if any, muscle growth in these areas but working them can still improve endurance, make the muscles healthier, and slow down degradation.

Some of the primary muscles jumping jacks work include the deltoids (shoulder), latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back), calves, hip abductors (outer thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), and quadriceps (front thighs).

On the other side, running mainly works your calves, glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), and quadriceps.

Whether you prefer jumping jacks or running in these areas depends on your training goals.

For example, jumping jacks would be a better choice as a warmup exercise for a full-body workout.

Running would be better for making walking around feel easier and more convenient.

Something to note is that people who really want to grow and strengthen these muscles likely want to turn to weight lifting exercises instead.

Person doing jumping jacks

Injury risk jumping jacks vs running

Choosing an exercise is not only a matter of how many calories they burn and what muscles they work. You also want to keep in mind that some exercises involve a higher injury risk than others.

Injuries drastically reduce how much exercise you can do. Sometimes to 0 for multiple weeks.

To get the health benefits of a workout plan, you need to actually be able to do the movements. One big workout is often not as effective as three medium ones.

So even if you choose exercises that may seem less effective in the short term, they could be better for your long-term goals by avoiding injuries.

Jumping jacks can be rough on your shoulders, ankles, and to some extent your knees.

Running tends to be challenging for your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back.

Where you are injury sensitive, where you want to avoid injuries, and what the rest of your workout plan looks like will influence your preference between the two.

People who are injury sensitive and/or have a few extra pounds to lose likely want to start with low-impact jumping jack and running alternatives instead.

A few examples include walking, swimming, and using an elliptical machine.

Ease of implementation in your routine

As mentioned, you have to do your workouts to get the benefits. How easy it is to do certain activities is another detail that influences how often you will do the workouts.

Jumping jacks are great in this area. You can do them whenever you have a few spare minutes in almost every location.

On the flip side, running tends to require a bit more time. You typically use specific running clothes, have to put your shoes on, and have a decent block of time since not many people go for a 3-minute run.

Additionally, running tends to be influenced more by the weather than jumping jacks.

Unless you have a treadmill at home or run in the gym.

Running is still relatively good in terms of ease of implementation since you can often just start doing it when you are out of the door. That being said, it is clear that jumping jacks are better in this area.

People running

The budget required for each workout

Investing in your health can be great but sometimes you can get similar or more effects for less.

Just running outside does not require the biggest budget. With some running shoes and workout clothes, you are good to go.

At the same time, if you run in the gym or on a treadmill at home, you will have to invest a decent amount extra.

Jumping jacks literally don’t require any budget at all.

While running is not the worst in this area, it is clear that jumping jacks again have the upper hand.

Are jumping jacks better than running for you?

Whether or not jumping jacks is better than running for you depends on your training goals, personal situation, and preferences.

If you want to engage muscles all over your body, not spend any money, and only have a few small free time blocks throughout the day, jumping jacks will likely be better.

Additionally, you don’t have to pay attention to things like the weather.

On the flip side, if you do have some time, running can help you train your cardiovascular health and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.

Something else to keep in mind is that your personal preference matters too. Doing the exercise you enjoy most (or dislike the least) can help with consistency.

In the end, you want to weigh the upsides and downsides against each other to decide. You can also try implementing both to see what works best for you.

People who are injury sensitive and/or carry around a few extra pounds likely don’t want to start with these exercises. Low-impact exercises tend to be a better idea in these situations.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.