Health

Running vs. jumping jacks: Which is the more effective exercise?

Running addicts love the thrill of a sprint and call a five mile loop around their neighborhood “therapy.” Good for them! But what if you’re more inclined to stay on the couch than attempt a couch-to-5k training program? If your goal is getting in better cardiovascular shape — and maybe even losing some extra pounds — there are many other exercises out there that don’t involve pounding the pavement or a session on the treadmill (which you might think of as the “dreadmill.”) “Too often I see people who sign up to do something like running, even though they know they hate running,” Shavise Glascoe, exercise physiologist at the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, told Health.

Instead, experts say, we should do an exercise we love. And if you think back to your most positive memories of getting your heart rate elevated, you might recall an old favorite from elementary school: jumping jacks. This fitness move is a type of calisthenics that strengthens bones, burns fat and calories, and uses multiple muscle groups at once (per OpenFit). Might jumping jacks even be more effective than running?

Running burns more calories than jumping jacks

If you’re comparing running and jumping jacks strictly from the perspective of calorie burn, running is the clear winner. According to Harvard Medical School, a 155 pound person doing vigorous calisthenics for a half hour would burn 298 calories, while that same person would burn 372 calories if they spent that time period running a 10 minute mile. That being said, jumping jacks are a much more convenient exercise; you can do them anywhere, without even leaving your house, and you don’t even need any special gear or shoes (per The Nest). They also might be lower-impact than running, if you do them on a soft surface. “Jumping jacks have a wealth of benefits like mobility, increased blood flow, training in the frontal plane, and overall joint motion,” Jonathan Mike, a strength and conditioning coach and professor of exercise science and sports performance at Grand Canyon University in Arizona, told Insider.

So if you’d rather do jumping jacks than run, by all means, go for it — especially if you hate running. By the same token, if running is your jam and you find jumping up and down boring or awkward, hit the road. “When we start exercising for pleasure and fun, exercise can become intrinsically motivating, meaning we are motivated from within,” registered dietitian personal trainer Jessi Haggerty told The Active Times. “If it’s not enjoyable, it’s going to be really hard to stay motivated!”

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