A UVA Heart & Vascular Center Initiative

Make Fitness Fun

Posted January 29, 2018

5 playground-style exercises to keep you in shape

Staying fit doesn’t have to mean clocking hours at the gym. As long as you’re moving your body, getting your heart rate up and doing so regularly, you’re on the right track. “The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of activity five days a week,” says cardiologist and Club Red Clinical Ambassador Brandy Patterson, MD. “To meet that goal, it’s helpful to find activities you enjoy and mix up your routine.”

With that in mind, we’re turning back the clock to reintroduce a few fun activities that will bring out the kid in you.

It’s Playtime

  1. Jump rope. This is a real calorie burner (up to 350 calories in 30 minutes)! And it’s a great way to get your heart rate up as well. You can vary your exercise by jumping backward or crossing the rope while you jump, just like you did as a kid.
  2. Hula hoop. We love the hula hoop! We hope you joined us at our annual Hoop for Your Heart event this Heart Month, but if not, try it out on your own! You burn just as many calories as you would in a step aerobics or cardio kickboxing class. It’s also a great way to strengthen your core and burn that troublesome belly fat.
  3. Monkey bar pull-ups. Try different grips to vary this challenging upper-body and core exercise. An underhand grip (palms facing your body on one bar) will give your biceps a workout, while a neutral grip (palms facing each other on two parallel bars) will strengthen your forearms.
  4. Park bench push-ups. The key is to keep your abs tight and your torso and legs in a straight line as you push away from the bench. You’ll tone and strengthen your chest, shoulders and arms. Make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart as you grasp the bench.
  5. Swing. You won’t burn a lot of calories, but you will strengthen your quads and hamstrings as you pump your legs. For an added ab workout, lean back in the swing a bit with legs outstretched; then move legs in a crisscross motion, right over left, then left over right.

More great ideas: Run a relay race, find a partner and do some wheelbarrow push-ups, or start up a game of kickball. These are all great ways to shake up your fitness routine. Plus — if you have young kids, you’ll be able to spend quality time with them and get in your workout. Multitasking win!

Before you begin a new fitness routine, be sure to speak with your doctor. Looking for a primary care physician? Go to uvahealth.com to find a doctor near you.

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