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Exercise at Your Local Playground! — an article on the Smart Living Network
September 13, 2010 at 12:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Exercise at Your Local Playground!

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The playground is an excellent way to combine fun and exercise into an event for the entire family. Traditionally, children have always enjoyed visiting a playground because of the exciting stations and rides there. By running around and climbing, they are getting more than enough physical activity. However, playground exercising does not just have to be for kids. Here are some great ideas for both adults and children to get all of the fitness benefits from their favorite playground.

Walking and Running

It is recommended that people get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, four or five days out of the week. With a busy schedule, that might seem like a tough goal to accomplish. This makes it even more important to multi-task and plan ahead. When you visit the playground with your children, do you normally sit on the bench and watch them? Instead of staying on the sidelines, be proactive and have fun while exercising your body at the same time. As any parent knows, children have a lot of energy and they love to run. Keeping up with them is a challenge and a workout in itself. You can play running games like tag, or hold races to see how fast the kids really are. If they are using the slide or another station, try walking, either back and forth, or in place. The key is to stay in motion and keep your heart going for 10 to 15 minutes at a time in the beginning. Gradually, you will work your way up to longer times and have as much energy as the kids.

Monkey Around

One of the most popular attractions at a playground is the monkey bars. Besides being a fun challenge, they are also a valuable source of resistance training. If you have not used them in a while, start out by just climbing across normally. Then, stay on one of the bars and perform some pull-ups. Your upper body and arm strength will improve dramatically and you will start to notice your muscles becoming more toned. Stretching is essential before, during, and after any form of exercise in order to prepare your muscles and joints for the activity. Along with normal stretching exercises, hanging from the monkey bars with your arms outstretched is a relaxing method of increasing the flexibility in your body. For an awesome abdominal workout, bring your knees up to your chest repeatedly while you are hanging, and feel your stomach tighten instantly.

Swing and See Saw

Believe or not, you might already be getting some exercise at the playground without even knowing it. Pushing your child on a swing works your arms and shoulders because of the constant pushing motion. Swing sets can be used for stretching exercises as well. There are a number of videos available that are filled with tons of ideas on swings and exercise. The see saw is another way to work out and have fun, since you are pushing off of the ground and using your body's natural resistance in the process. Your legs, thighs, and calves will benefit tremendously from the see saw, which is typically enjoyed with older children. No matter what your favorite activities at the playground are, the combination of strength and endurance training will help you stay healthy and live better, which will make your whole family very happy!

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretching/SM00043

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fitness/FL00030

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/strength-training/HQ01010

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/AN01713

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