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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity
- American Council on Exercise: Burn Calories: Supercharge the Squat Thrust
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Burpees vs. Jumping Jacks
Burpees and jumping jacks are two types of plyometric exercises that require bursts of muscle power. Plyometric exercises may increase your strength, power, bone density and joint stability, combating some of the effects of age on your physicality, according to an article published in the "Health and Fitness Journal of Canada" in May 2009.
To perform a jumping jack, you stand with your legs hip-width apart and your arms down at your sides, then jump and place your legs out to the sides while raising your arms out to the sides and above your head. Return to start to complete one repetition. To perform a burpee, you start in the same position as with a jumping jack, then move into a squat position with your hands touching the floor by your feet. Jump your feet back to a push-up position, then return to the squat position and stand up to complete one repetition. Variations include adding a pushup before returning to a squatting position and jumping up high from a squat position at the end of the repetition instead of just standing back up.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers both burpees and jumping jacks high-intensity cardiovascular exercises. Because burpees involve larger motions and more muscles, however, they can provide a more intense cardiovascular workout than jumping jacks. If you are a beginning exerciser, start with jumping jacks and then move to burpees as you become more fit.
Burpees are better for strengthening your muscles than jumping jacks, as they use both your upper and lower body muscles to hold your weight at various points in the exercise. Adding a squat to the beginning or the end of your jumping jacks can make them more effective at building up your lower body muscles. For the best muscle-building results, use the more advanced versions of burpees that include pushups and an explosive jump at the end of the movement.
Check with your doctor before incorporating high-impact exercises like burpees and jumping jacks into your workouts. They may not be safe for you, especially if you have joint problems. Make sure you are using the proper form, as these exercises can lead to injury if they are not performed correctly. Start slowly until you are used to the exercise and gradually work up to more repetitions.
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.