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Jumping jacks are a great way to get every single major muscle group in your body moving, challenging your cardiovascular system and burning more calories faster. In fact, according to Harvard Health Publications, you can torch anywhere from 135 to 355 calories -- depending on your body weight and exercise intensity -- in half an hour of doing calisthenics like jumping jacks. If the impact, movement or balance required for doing jumping jacks isn't quite within your reach, modified jumping jacks are an excellent alternative.
Chair-Assisted Jumping Jacks
Stand with your feet together, behind or beside a sturdy chair that won't tip if you put weight on it. The chair's back or arms should be high enough that you can rest your hands on them without bending over.
Rest your hands lightly on the chair's back or arms and hop up, landing with your feet spread. Use the chair for balance if you need it, but support your own weight as much as possible.
Jump again; this time, land with your feet together. Keep alternating between feet-spread and feet-open positions; your ultimate goal is to move as quickly as you safely can. If you feel ready, slowly wean yourself off using the chair for balance by swinging one arm at a time out to the side or over your head, alternating arms with each jump.
Stability Ball Jumping Jacks
Verify that the stability ball you're using is rated to support more than your current body weight -- usually this is printed on the ball, near the air plug. You can use almost any stability ball if you're careful, but if you jump vigorously and bounce on the ball, you should use a ball that's rated to withstand bouncing; check for a second, dynamic load limit printed near the air plug.
Sit on the stability ball and, with your hands on the ball, a spotter or a sturdy piece of furniture for support, practice alternating between the typical feet-spread, feet-open positions of a jumping jack while remaining seated on the ball.
Add your arms into the movement when you feel ready: swing your arms up and overhead when your feet are open, then swing your arms back down when you close your feet.
Stand with both feet together, arms at your sides. You can do either of two lower-body movements for this type of modified jumping jack: Either step one leg to the side, then return to the starting position, or tap your heel to one side and then return to the starting position.
Repeat whichever movement you chose on the other side. Continue alternating back and forth until you're comfortable doing the leg movements at a steady, challenging pace.
Add the arm movements: Swing your arms overhead when you tap or step to the side, then swing your arms back to your sides when you bring your feet together.