The cheapest way to get fit: Use the playground with your kids
By Aimee Heckel
It’s hard finding time to fit in fitness when you’re a parent. Multitasking is the secret; the next time you’re at the playground with your kids, think of it as your own fitness playground, too.
Here are some ways you can get fit on the playground, all in the name of playing with your kids.
The warm-up. Kick off the session with a 10-minute game of tag, Red Rover, hopscotch or capture the flag. Even hide and seek or Duck, Duck, Goose could work, or a short game of basketball.
Upper-body strengthening. Remember how easy those monkey bars were as a kid? Try them now. See how far you can go across the monkey bars, or if you’re already pretty strong, how fast. Do three rounds of monkeying around, and finish off your upper body with as many pull-ups as you can do without falling to the ground.
Cardio intervals. In between each strength-building exercise, do a short burst of cardio, such as one minute of double-dutch jumprope with your kids. If you have individual ropes, see who can jump the most times in a row or do certain tricks.
Kids love jumping rope, and you will love it, too, since jumping rope is one of the most effective exercises for burning calories, according to the Mayo Clinic. You can blow through about 730 calories per hour — if only you could keep doing it that long.
Pick up a nice cable jump rope, like this Gofit rope, at REI.com for $19.95. Save money on your REI purchases by using one of these REI coupons, and buying through ShopAtHome.com, where you get 3 percent Cash Back.
Lower-body drills. Every good playground has stairs. And stairs are, again, one of the most effective ways to burn calories. (It’s like kids have this fitness thing figured out.) Myfitnesspal, the popular fitness tracker app, says a 150-pound person can burn 1,021 calories in an hour running up and down stairs.
There are endless exercises you can your kids can do on the stairs, but try this one: race up a flight of stairs and then lunge back down them, backward. Do a small backward leg lift between each step to hit those hammies and glutes, too.
Core work. Doing crunches on the playground gravel is not only awkward, but not necessarily the best (or safest) way to work your abs. Instead, make it fun. Get a hula hoop and hoop with your kids for 10 minutes in one direction, 10 in the other.
Before you say, “I can’t hula hoop,” make sure you’re using the right size and weight of hoop. A slightly weighted hoop can be much easier to use than a kiddie hoop. Find “beginner” hula hoops on Etsy for $23.99. Avoid the heavily weighted hoops, though, because some experts believe they can actually cause injury.
Feel like you need more practice? Get a hooping DVD, like Hoopnotica Fitness, $24.99, at yogaaccessories.com. Find coupons for Yoga Accessories here, and pair them with ShopAtHome.com to get 5 percent more Cash Back.
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