The playground workout that brings out the kid in you

Many of us have spent the long, cold winter inside. And when we workout, it’s usually indoors as well—at home or in the gym. Thankfully, it’s finally warm and sunny out. That means now is the time to get outside and make exercising fun.

Believe it or not, the playground is a great place to exercise. It has everything you need and just as many options as your gym. But it makes for a much more interesting and fun workout. Your imagination is your only limitation.

Plus, if you feel you don’t have time to exercise because you look after children, then take them to the playground and let them play on the swings while you “play” at fitness on everything else.

In today’s video article my good friend, fitness coach Kevin Kearns, shows you how to get out of the office and the gym and get a great workout at your local playground, using only what’s already there. Pull ups, wall hops, picnic table jumps, monkey bar swings and fun!

Pull ups – Standard and Side-to-Side

Pull-up handles are everywhere at playgrounds. In our video playground there is a set of them; in others they can be a pull-up bar or monkey bar that you use, or even the cross-bar of a swing set. Pull-ups are great for your upper body, great for strength training and you’re out in the sun.

Hold onto the handles or bar, and simply hang your bodyweight from your arms. Be sure to bend your knees to keep your feet off the ground. Simply pull yourself straight up and let yourself straight down, steady. Do three sets of 10 reps if you can; more if you are able. If these become too simple or you get bored, you can increase the workout by pulling yourself up from side to side. You’ll be surprised at how difficult that can be.

Monkey bar swings

Monkey bars are great fun to swing on. My daughter is in 4th grade and can swing past two at a time, back and forth. For adults, it’s far more difficult! Simply start at the beginning, grab onto one bar and swing the other arm over to the next bar. It’s quite a workout for the upper body, shoulders and lats, and it’s a fantastic stretch, too. If the bars are too low, be sure to bend your knees to lift your feet off the ground. See if you can make it across and back. Harder than you remember, or think!

Fence hops

Coach Kevin grew up near Boston and used to love to hop fences as a kid, and so this next improvised playground exercise is called “Boston fence hops.” If you want an upper body workout that pushes your cardio at the same time, these are for you.

Simply find a low wall, fence, table or can about thigh height or lower and stand next to it. Put your hands down and spring over to the other side. Hand down and spring over, land and push your hands down and spring over, land and repeat for either a time limit or repetition count that you can manage. This is great for core control and upper body strength, and there is no potential knee strain because you are landing on dirt and not pavement. It’s explosive and fun at the same time!

Picnic table jumps

This is a great plyometric or dynamic and explosive jumping exercise. Fist make sure the bench is sturdy and secure. Start from a firm standing position with feet apart and jump up onto the bench of the picnic table, or any park bench for that matter. Be sure to step back down as opposed to hopping down, to save strain on your knees. Do as many as you can do safely, rest and repeat three times. If this is too simple, try jumping up onto the table itself!

There are so many things in a playground that can help you get fit while having fun in the sun. Just remember to drink plenty of water. In another video we’ll show you even more options. But these four should get you started in achieving your fitness goals and getting that much-needed vitamin-D out in the sun.

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Dr. Mark Wiley

By Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. Dr. Wiley has written 14 books and more than 500 articles. He serves on the Health Advisory Boards of several wellness centers and associations while focusing his attention on helping people achieve healthy and balanced lives through his work with Easy Health Options® and his company, Tambuli Media.