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Embrace Your Inner Child to Get in Shape

8 Recess-Inspired Activities that are More than Kid's Play

-- By Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor
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2. Obstacle Course. Remember the obstacle courses that you used to do in elementary school? You'd break into a few teams and see who could run around the playground, dive under the big tires, skip around the big tree and go across the monkey bars the fastest? Well, why not fire up your competitive playful instincts again? Obstacle courses that feature a variety of activities can be great cross training and a fantastic functional workout because you're moving your body in so many natural ways. If you go all out through the course numerous times with small breaks between turns, you can even count it as interval training, which burns almost 10 calories a minute!

Try-It Tip: Hit your local elementary school's playground during off hours and challenge a friend to a circuit of monkey bars, climbing over the big tires and jogging or speed walking a lap or two around the blacktop.

3. Swing. Who didn't love swinging as a kid? Turns out flying high into the sky was great lower-intensity cardio that strengthened our cores and legs. The pumping motion of the legs strengthens both your quads and hamstrings and the balancing aspect of the swinging targets the core. It takes about an hour to burn 200 calories swinging, so it's not a fantastic calorie burner, but it's definitely good for the body and childlike spirit.

Try-It Tip: Hit the swings the next time you're at the park. Parks near middle schools and junior highs are likely to have swings designed for taller kids with longer legs. And if you can't find a swing to fit you, remember that pushing a child on the swing is good cardio that strengthens your upper body, too!

4. Jump Rope. There's no doubt that you can get a good workout with just a simple jump rope. Heck, unless you’re a professional boxer, just a few minutes of jumping rope is enough to get you sweating. In fact, this childhood "toy" equates to an almost 350-calorie burn per 30-minute jumping session. You can even throw in old school tricks to jazz it up, like jumping backwards, "double unders" (turning the rope twice for each jump) or crossing your rope while you jump.

Try-It Tip: Try SparkPeople’s 10-minute jump rope routine to test your jumping endurance! If jumping rope for just a minute or two is all you can muster, grab some pals and try double-dutch again. You won't burn as many calories as you take turns, but you probably will make up for that somewhat with all the laughing!
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • great article - 7/28/2013 1:16:10 PM
  • I agree with TWOOFTHREE. BUT it's a great article. - 7/25/2013 9:56:10 AM
  • TABETHA16
    Another FUN way to release your inner child and get exercise is to participate in mud runs! My favorite is www.thebattlegrou
    nds.com - 11/21/2012 11:30:55 AM
  • Wow, great article that really brought back the memories. I think I will go out a look for a hula hoop tomorrow. - 10/24/2011 9:35:18 PM
  • Good article too bad some of us weren't always allowed to play when we were kids. I can recall playing Doctor, doctor on a few occaisions (as a break from the routine) in karate class. - 1/19/2011 7:58:20 PM
  • Hadn't thought about all the games I played when I was a kid. It was a walk down memory lane for me. Thanks! - 12/23/2010 7:16:37 AM
  • Hopscotch definitely needs to be added to this list. - 11/20/2010 2:04:08 PM
  • Add to this list, FOLLOW THE LEADER. I used to do this for PE hour when I worked on a ranch for troubled teens. Doing this outdoors on uneven ground can work up a sweat! - 8/31/2010 10:21:52 AM
  • Great memories! Man, I loooved jumprope! But...'Chinese jumprope' was the best, though... that elasticized band around your knees, and two people had to be "ends', unless you could loop one end around an object? All that jumping, walking, running, twirling...I wish I knew some people that were into this, LOL! - 8/9/2010 7:44:19 PM
  • TRISHAJANELLE
    Hopscotch would be a fun one too. - 7/27/2010 4:32:03 PM
  • Love this article! I'm a bit limited to the games I can play due to my blindness, but I can play tag in my pool without worrying about obstacles and I can find the people by their movement in the water. My nephew and I do play "Marco Polo" in the pool and not only am I getting my fitness in, he's learning what it is like for me not to be able to see! I've been wanting a hula hoop and will need to get one! I'm going to talk my husband into an obstacle course with me too! Thanks! - 7/27/2010 3:14:10 PM
  • These are really fun ideas....and it brings back a lot of memories from games I remember as a kid! - 7/27/2010 9:49:19 AM
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