5 Moves That Turn the Park into a Gym
Finding time to work out is a challenge — add little ones to the mix, and it can seem nearly impossible. Our fit fix: Start sculpting while the kids play.
“Playground equipment has different angles, levels, and surfaces, so you can get creative with exercises,” says trainer (and mom) Patricia Friberg, star of the Belly Beautiful Workout series of DVDs. “Plus, apparatus like swings challenge your balance and stability, increasing the workload on your muscles.”
It’s not just your body that benefits from a park session: Research published in Environmental Science & Technology shows that exercising outdoors provides a bigger energy boost and is more enjoyable than working up a sweat inside.
Ready to play your way fit? Try this routine, designed by Friberg, which uses common park gear to strengthen your muscles and blast calories. You can pick and choose these exercises and do each as you can or do it once for a quick (just 10 minutes!) workout.
The 10-Minute Playground Workout
Do each exercise for the recommended number of reps, performing 1 minute of cardio (jumping jacks, marching in place, or walking around the playground) between each move. Try mixing up the order of the exercises every time you do this workout.
The basic crunch
Works the transversus and rectus abdominus (those six-pack muscles).
Get Ready: Place hands shoulder-width apart on a slide (the higher they are, the easier the move) and extend legs hip-width behind you.
Go: Bend elbows, lowering chest toward the slide, then push up to the starting position to complete 1 rep. Do 12 to 16 reps.
Bench Leg Lift
Get Ready: Bend over from your hips and stack your forearms on top of a picnic table or park bench. (Your body should be in an inverted L position.)
Go: Raise your right leg to hip height behind you, then lower it until it nearly touches the ground behind you to complete 1 rep. Do 8 reps.
Next, bend right knee 90 degrees. Lift right thigh, pressing heel straight up, then lower leg to complete 1 rep. Do 16 reps. Repeat the entire series on left side.
Monkey Bars Hanging Knee Raise
Get Ready: Hang from a bar with hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing forward.
Go: Tighten your abdominals, then bend your knees, raising them toward your chest. Extend legs to complete 1 rep. Do 8 to 12 reps.
Swing Plank Pull
Get Ready: Get in a push-up position, with the tops of your feet on a swing, and your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground.
Go: Bend your knees, drawing them toward your chest as you pull the swing forward. Extend your legs to the starting position to complete 1 rep. Do 8 to 12 reps.
If this is too challenging, keep your legs extended and hold the plank position for 60 seconds.
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Swing Bridge Curl
Get Ready: Lie faceup on the ground with your heels on a swing, legs extended and arms on the ground at your sides. Lift your hips until your body forms a line from your heels to your shoulders.
Go: Bend knees, bringing heels toward your butt, lower hips until they nearly touch the ground, then extend legs to complete 1 rep. Do 10 to 15 reps.
If this is too challenging, skip the curl: Simply lift and lower your hips.