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How Playgrounds Promote Exercise: Tips on Turning the Playground Into Your Gym

Being active isn't always easy, especially with a busy lifestyle. According to the Mayo Clinic, healthy adults need 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week and strength training twice a week. The clinic also suggests that kids get at least one hour of physical activity per day. For many families, the solution can be found in the form of a playground. From the outdoor space surrounding the playground to the actual equipment, these locations are a great place for a family to get in activities, play, and exercise together. The best part is that parents and kids can have a little fun along the way.

How Playgrounds Promote Exercise

The equipment at the playground calls to the kids as soon as they are within sight of the bright colors. While playgrounds come in all shapes and sizes, many have some of the same types of equipment. Each part of the playground encourages some type of exercise. The monkey bars work to build upper-body strength but at the same time help with coordination. Ladders help work the muscles in a child's legs. Some other portions of the playground, including various climbing apparatuses, work out a child's flexibility. While a playground still promotes exercise even if a child is alone, there is a lot of potential for cardiovascular exercise when a couple of other kids show up to play. Chasing each other around the playground is simple but still gets the heart rate up. One of the best things about a playground is that while the kids are climbing, running, hanging, and swinging, they may not even realize that they are getting the exercise they need to stay healthy. Playing on a playground is just one way to develop healthy habits that for many kids will help them maintain an active lifestyle even into adulthood.

Adults Can Enjoy Playgrounds, Too

Kids aren't the only family members who can benefit from an outdoor playground workout. With no time for the gym, parents are starting to realize that they can complete the same exercises as the kids using the same equipment. Why not try to make it across the monkey bars without putting a foot down? The kids are working on upper-body strength, and parents have the ability to do the exact same thing using the playground equipment. The monkey bars can also pull double duty as a pull-up bar. No monkey bars around? Check for a set of rings to hang from. It might take a little bit of creativity, but it is possible to transform a playground into an adult gym. Here are a couple of ideas for how to use the playground to get in a workout:

  • Hang from the monkey bars and pull your legs up to a tucked position.
  • Use a park bench or a playground pole to complete a modified push-up.
  • Place your feet in the swings and do some push-ups.
  • Try split squats with one foot behind you in a swing.
  • Jump onto a park bench or playground platform.
  • Play tag with your child all around the playground and park to get in some cardio.

Remember enjoying the playground as a child? Remember how much fun you had? You probably didn't even realize that you were getting in some exercise. As an adult, exercise is still an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Instead of skipping over that workout, consider taking the kids to the local playground and getting in some activity as a family.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart