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Thursday, February 13, 2014

9 Playground Exercises You Can Do While Your Children Play


(CREDIT: Matt From London (Flickr))

If your children are anything like mine, you know that they absolutely love being outside. My kids love the playground, whether it's at school during recess, or after school during their free time. It's one of our favorite things to do together, as I just love seeing them enjoy themselves and staying active by running around and just having a great time!

Physical activity is important in staying healthy, and while your children are playing on the playground, put down the cell phone and get some activity in yourself. When taking my children to the playground, I try to get some exercise in as well, and you would be really surprised at the amount of different exercises that you can do, just by using the surrounding playground equipment.

Here are nine of my personal favorite exercises to do at the playground while my children are enjoying themselves on the monkey bars, swings, and slides.

  1. Step-Ups Make use of the playground slides by doing step-ups. When facing the slide, step one foot up onto the bottom of the slide, followed by the other foot, and come back down. Repeat this process multiple times, before switching which foot hits the slide first. It's good to challenge yourself too – see how fast you can go!

  2. Light Pull-upsIf you're not confident doing full pull-ups, there are a variety of exercises you can do to work yourself up to them. Playground equipment is often the perfect height for adults to practice these exercises. Grab some vertical bars and lean back at an angle, or you can lean further back for more of a burn, then pull yourself up.

  3. Be Inventive – Playing with your children on the playground can be more physically active than you would think. Try being imaginative and inventive by creating games with your children on the playground. For example, challenge your child to see who can hang from the monkey bars the longest before letting go. Hang there for a bit – it's great for your upper body strength.

  4. Jogging – While your children are having a blast, go for a light jog around the perimeter of the playground. This is a good way to get your cardio workout in.

  5. Swing Crouch – This is one that I picked up from a friend of mine, and it's a great way to give your legs a workout! Right after pushing your child on the swing, squat down to give your legs a bit of a burn.

  6. Balance Beam Walk – A great way to improve your focus in general is to walk the balance beam. I loved this as a child, but back then it was for fun. While it can still be fun, now the focus for me is on strengthening my core muscles. See how you do when it comes to keeping your balance. If you haven't done it in a long time, it may take a few tries, but you'll get it!

  7. Sprints – Always a great way to improve your cardio and burn some calories, sprinting is one way to effectively utilize your exercising time at the playground. Try sprinting back and forth across the playground, for one full lap. I recommend a one minute rest between laps, but try getting a few laps in! It's not easy, but it sure does feel rewarding when you're done!

  8. Inchworm Pushup – While you don't necessarily need to utilize any of the playground equipment for this exercise, the Inchworm Pushup is a good exercise to take advantage of on the grass or ground nearby. To do an Inchworm Pushup, begin in a plank position, and walk yourself back to your feet, forming an upside-down "V" shape. From there, walk yourself back out until you're back into a full plank position, and do a pushup. From there, walk yourself back in and continue to repeat the process. This is a great exercise to do in sets of five!

  9. Monkey Bar Chin-Ups – Head to the monkey bars and grab hold of one of the bars with both hands. Just like the chin-ups that you would do back in gym class, pull yourself up with all of your strength until your chin meets the bar, and then slowly lower yourself. Repeat this process until you need to rest! Push yourself!

The next time you take your children to the playground, don't be afraid to change your routine. You can take the time to be physically active, all while being a great mom.

Have you ever exercised at the playground? What other exercises can you think of? Also, before and after doing any of this, don't forget to stretch!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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