Many people like the benefits of jumping jacks but find them too rough. In that case, modified jumping jacks can be a better alternative.
First of all, some people mean different things when they say modified jumping jacks.
This article considers modified jumping jacks to be a jumping jack variation where you swing one leg outward and inward without putting it down. You move your arms similarly to the regular version.
Modified jumping jacks are easier on your knees than regular jumping jacks since they require no jumping.
At the same time, you need to know that this also comes with getting the standard benefits to a lesser extent.
That means modified jumping jacks can be useful for exercise beginners who find more intense workouts too hard (for now).
You can still see some improvements in cardiovascular health, balance, and coordination from doing modified jumping jacks.
if you want to keep your workout low impact but take it one step further (literally) and less focused on balance, you can also give step jacks a try.
Other low-impact exercises that can offer a better cardio workout include walking, the elliptical trainer, cycling, etc.
How to do a modified jumping jack
Take the following steps to do a modified jumping jack:
- Stand upright with your feet together and your arms hanging beside you.
- Swing one leg outward as far as comfortable. At the same time, raise your slightly less than stretched arms sideways and upward. You want your arms to point up when your leg is farthest away from your other leg.
- Lower your leg and arms again so that you are back in starting position.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 but swing your other leg.
Modified jumping jacks are relatively straightforward but they can be challenging in terms of balance.
If this is an issue for you, you can also consider step jacks where you actually step sideways instead of standing on one leg for a long time.
That aside, when you get used to the modified jumping jacks you can do them faster to get the benefits to a larger extent.
Modified jumping jacks muscles worked
The muscles you work with jumping jacks include your hip abductors (outer thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), deltoids (shoulders), latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back), and to some extent your core muscles.
Because you don’t actually fold your legs or use them to jump, modified jumping jacks will work your quadriceps (front thighs), glutes (butt), and hamstrings (back thighs) a lot less than the standard version.
Regular jumping jacks are typically not hard enough to actually grow your muscles. As you can expect, this applies to the modified variation too.
Even in terms of muscle endurance improvements, you should not expect too much from modified jumping jacks since this is such a light exercise.
Modified jumping jacks benefits
Besides one additional point, the positive effects of modified jumping jacks are basically the same as the benefits of regular jumping jacks. You do get these to a lesser extent.
- Easier on your body: You could find regular jumping jacks and similar exercises too hard on body parts like your ankles, knees, and back. In that case, modified jumping jacks could be a better choice.
- Can help with losing weight: Modified jumping jacks are not the most effective in this area but they do help you burn a few extra calories. This makes it more likely you get to the point where you lose weight.
- Can keep your cardiovascular system healthy: The extra movements in modified jumping jacks also engage your cardiovascular system. This can slow down degradation or even make it healthier.
- Balance and coordination: Modified jumping jacks require nice amounts of balance and coordination. In turn, your balance and coordination could get better by doing this exercise.
- Improves sleep: You can improve the quality and duration of your sleep by moving your body more intensely during exercises like modified jumping jacks.
- No equipment or location required: You don’t have to put money or time into exercise equipment or going to the gym to be able to do modified jumping jacks.
- Improves mood: How you move your body can influence your state of mind. Exercises like modified jumping jacks can improve your mood.
You can often get these benefits to a larger extent from other exercises but for certain people and situations, modified jumping jacks could be a good way to get them.
Modified jumping jack alternatives
By now you may conclude that modified jumping jacks are just a bit too easy for your skill level. In that case, some of these alternatives could offer you more results in a shorter amount of time:
- Step jacks
- Balance exercises
- Other jumping jack variations
- Lateral raises
- Using an elliptical machine
Your choice between these modified jumping jack alternatives depends a lot on your fitness goals, what your body can deal with, and what exercise equipment you have available.
Are modified jumping jacks a good exercise?
Modified jumping jacks can be a decent exercise for people who want to train their cardiovascular health, balance, and coordination in a light and low-impact way that involves arm movements.
That being said, you also need to know that the benefits of relatively light exercises like this are also generally smaller than more vigorous workouts.
Modified jumping jacks can be an option if you really find most alternatives too challenging or don’t have the exercise equipment to do them.
Even so, many people will prefer other low-impact exercises like cycling, walking, swimming, etc. that also require no jumping since these offer more positive effects in shorter amounts of time.
Doing modified jumping jacks is still generally better than doing nothing but you are likely leaving some results on the table.
Are modified jumping jacks effective?
While they can still be helpful for certain people and situations, it is fair to say that modified jumping jacks are not that effective compared to many other exercise options.