Jumping Jacks


Follow the directions below. You should already be familiar with loading exercises and approaching therapy.

Feel free to use the Metronome at any time to improve accuracy, speed, and control.

Jumping Jacks are a great way to energize clients and build important bilateral control. Try to combine a few gross motor activities at a time and plan for one or two periods of these during the day, if possible. 15 minutes twice daily is good, and more is better provided it does not become too tedious.

Purpose:  To pattern auditory and visual information with gross motor movements.

Materials:  Metronome if available


1.  Mark off an 18-inch square area on the floor.  Patient is instructed to do the jumping jacks in time with the sound.

2.  Set up a steady beat by tapping or by use of metronome and instruct patient to do the jumping jacks in time with the sound.

3.  When jumping to first position (feet apart and arms up) breathe in by distending the abdomen.

4.  When returning to original position ( feet together and arms at sides) breathe out by compressing the abdomen.

5.  If there is a problem in performing the jumping jacks movements themselves, or in rhythm with the beat, or the breathing, work with the leg action and the arm action separately, gradually adding the other components until the operation can be accomplished in total.

Aspects to be emphasized:

1.  Ability to synchronize arm and leg actions.

2.  Ability to stay in the square.

3.  Ability to keep in time with the beat.

4.  Ability to breathe abdominally in time with the beat and the jump.

Un-Load it: For younger clients, if the task is too difficult, let them position their arms however they wish, but complete the task with legs only. Keep the circle tight by encouraging them to keep their feet within an18-24″ diameter circle (or simply use painter’s tape to mark off a 24 inch square on the floor). Next, have them perform the task with arms only.

Load it: Try a 1/2-jack – try left leg, left arm, then right leg and right arm. Next try right leg, left arm, then left leg, right arm. Try to go through a cycle when each possible combination is attempted in sequence. Start slowly, then gradually pick up the speed.

Load it: Make the target (circle or square) progressively smaller, and have the client centre their legs inside the target when they return side-by-side to complete the cycle. Next, place two new targets, spots of tape, to either side of the centre target, again about 20-24″ apart. The goal is to accurately hit each target on each inward and outward jump in the cycle. Try varying the distances, even make one side closer to the centre target than the other. Try to move the rate up using the metronome, start at a speed that is easily attainable, then

Load it: With more advanced clients, one can approach these exercises as a means of meditating. That is, focus exclusively on the exercise, repeating it perfectly with each cycle and keeping perfect time with a metronome. Slow (65-70) to moderate (90-100) speeds are best.