Are Jumping Jacks Bad for the Legs?

Teenage girl (16-17) jumping in studio

Jumping jacks are a high-impact exercise that helps you lose fat and blast calories. This type of exercise can also help to target train the lower body by building muscular endurance and shaping the legs. Unless you have an existing injury or health concern you might want to consider adding jumping jacks to your fitness regimen.

Muscles Worked

Jumping jacks are an explosive plyometric exercise that exerts a lot of effort to perform. During jumping jacks, you work your lower body, targeting the calves, hamstrings, glutes, hip adductors and abductors. Your glutes work to spread your legs apart when you perform jumping jacks. Your calves work during a jumping jack to help you land softly with less impact, and also they help to plantar flex your ankle to lift your heel off the floor. Your hip adductors work to bring your legs back together during your jumping jack.

Injury Risk

The explosiveness of jumping jacks does increase your risk for injury. If you are new to exercise or have weaker joints because of the high impact movements, you are at a greater risk to sprain your ankle or injury your knee. Repeated jumping jacks can also lead to an overuse injury because of stressing the same muscles on the body. However, you would have to perform a high amount of jacks for an overuse injury to develop.

Perfect Form

You can reduce your risk of injury and get your best leg shaping results by using correct form during jumping jacks. Begin with your feet together and a small bend in your knees. Jump up, spreading your legs as your arms come up over head. Land lightly on your feet. It is crucial that you maintain a bend in your knees to help reduce the amount of impact. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests wearing shock-absorbing footwear to reduce impact.


Jumping jacks can help reduce the amount of fat you have on your legs. According to the American Council on Exercise, a 150 pound person burns 91 calories doing jumping jacks for 10 minutes. Jumping jacks also improve your cardiovascular system, helping to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.