The way you look at it, the playground is a great place for the kids to run wild while you relax with a book. But has it ever occurred to you to join in the fun? Besides benefiting physically, you’ll get a mood boost, too.
Start your playground workout before you leave home with a five-minute warm-up. Do some calf stretches, arm circles and side stretches. Rotate your head in a clockwise and counterclockwise motion. Lean your head to each side. Do some shoulder rotations, forward and back. Now put on your walking shoes, leave your car keys behind and walk briskly to the park.
Keep moving once you get to the park. Play dodgeball or tag with the kids. Jump rope. Put some muscle into pushing them on the swings—and while you’re at it, do some swinging yourself!
Take a seat on a nearby bench and do the strengthening and stretching exercises described below. (Hold each position 10 seconds before returning to the start position; work up to eight repetitions of each. Make sure you breathe through each move; holding your breath may make you dizzy.)
- To strengthen chest, place your hands on your shoulders and bring your elbows together.
- To build arms, lean forward and place your hands on your shins. Push down, keeping your back straight.
- Strengthen legs and abdomen by placing palms on the bench; raise knees toward your chest and slowly lower them.
- Stretch your back by clasping your hands above your head. Bending from the waist, lean first to the right then to the left, holding the lowest position.
Finally, practice “mindful” walking to exercise your spirit as well as your body. Pay attention to the sights, smells and sounds of nature—the blue sky, a fluttering butterfly, the smell of freshly mown grass. Tune into the easy rhythm of your movements, and let it relax you.
Now that you’ve discovered how good it feels to move, look for other outdoor fitness opportunities: Practice some golf shots. Dust off your bike and ride around the neighborhood. Walk down streets you never knew existed. Enjoy a dip in a nearby pool or tend to your garden.
Try to build some activity, any activity, into your daily routine and you’ll feel and look better—guaranteed.