“Mommy, Daddy, will you play with me?” is a phrase heard in abundance by parents of young children. What if your answer were a resounding “Yes!” instead of a mumbled “I guess?” Playgrounds offer kids a wonderland of options to get in their daily dose of exercise and fun, but you can benefit just as much.
Remember the days when you used to make a beeline for the slide to be first in line? Or were you the kid hanging upside down on the monkey bars until all the blood rushed to your head? That happy, playful child is still in you, and we’ve some ideas on how to let the kid in you come out and play. You can make your kids happy and fit in an excellent workout right alongside them. That’s a win-win for multitasking.
Want a great upper-body workout? Try your hands at the monkey bars you used to easily glide across as a kid. You may find it a tad more difficult now, depending on your fitness level, but this is a great core and upper-body strengthener for everyone. You can also use the side of the monkey bars to do as many pull-ups or chin-ups as you can. For a lower set of monkey bars, simply bend your knees so your feet don’t touch the ground.
Hit the swings for a maximum core workout
Most playgrounds have a set of swings. If you get a chance, use one simple swing to strengthen your core big time. Start with push-ups, placing your feet on the swing and hands on the ground (wear gloves or bring a small mat). Then, move on to a more difficult movement by keeping your feet on the ground, placing your hands on the swing and then allowing your hands and feet to get farther apart as your body begins to flatten, before pulling your hands back toward your feet. You can find how-to videos and pictures of many playground exercises by visiting this fun website.
Benches aren’t just for sitting
Now that you’ve mastered upper-body and core exercises, it’s time to get those legs working. Bench jumps are a simple-to-understand yet difficult-to-execute movement that will have you sweating in no time. Simply stand in front of the bench and try to jump onto it with both feet at the same time. You should, ideally, be in pretty good shape to complete this exercise safely. If that’s not you, try a similarly flat but lower structure, like a curb or platform. For a lower-key workout for beginners or those of moderate fitness, step-ups are also a great way to incorporate a bench into your workout routine.
Run for it!
A great way to get some cardio in while the kiddos play is to run. This is a fun one! Play tag or race your kids. Simply define the start and finish lines, then sprint as fast as you can. Use your phone or a watch to time each other if you want. Alternatively, you can go for the long haul by running laps around an open field, a city block or the playground. Again, get your kids involved and use a timer to track your progress.
As busy parents, we often find ourselves struggling to fit in time for a workout. By using the playground equipment at your local park, you not only get your kids outdoors to enjoy some movement, you also give yourself a full-body workout. Exercise contributes to better mental, physical, and emotional health. Fitness as a family strengthens your bond and communication while creating memories that will last forever.