If you think playgrounds are just for kids, think again! Although you may not go down the slide like you use to, there’s nothing stopping you from using the same equipment to get your heart pumping while your kids play. Just looking around playgrounds in my community, I’ve come up with a few ideas for you to try:
Ladder climber: Hold onto the rails for support, then take one big step up to the highest rung you can reach with your right leg, then bring the left leg up to the same rung, then one at a time lower them back down to the ground. This is a great for improving your balance, working your gluteal (butt) muscles, hamstrings and core.
Modification: If extending to the highest rung is too challenging or you feel unsteady, start with the first rung and progress your way up.
Bench dips: Sit on a bench or low platform. Place your palms by your side on the bench and slide forward so that your arms are holding your weight. Bend your elbows to lower yourself, and then push yourself back up using your arms. This is great for shoulders and triceps.
Modification: Make it easier by bending your legs and placing your feet closer to you or harder by straightening your legs and balancing on your heels.
Lunges: Stand next to a pole (for balance) with feet shoulder width apart. Take one big step forward with your right leg and bend your right knee to about 90 degrees (ensure your right knee doesn’t go past your toes), then return to upright position. Do 5-10 repetitions on one side then change legs. This exercise helps build strong thigh and gluteal muscles.
Modification: If you feel any strain in your knee avoid bending to the full 90 degrees.
Modified Pull ups: Look for a bar that is about chest height. With hands shoulder width apart, grip the bar using an underhand grip (fingers curl towards you). Extend your legs in front of you until your chest is under the bar. Keeping your elbows tucked in, pull your chest up - close to the bar, and then slowly release back down. You’ll feel this one in your core, biceps and shoulders.
Modification: If this is too challenging, move your feet closer to the bar so you are in a more upright position.
Chasing after your children: A great aerobic exercise!! Running around chasing your kids improves heart health, bone health, and builds muscle for both you and them.
Modification: Running fast or slow, jumping, making fun animal or monster noises, laughing and giggling.
If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor fitness park or BC Seniors Park in your neighbourhood, take advantage of it! There are no monthly fees, an abundance of fresh air, and no set hours, what’s not too like?!
If you’re interested in more playground exercises, the qualified exercise professionals at the Physical Activity Line (1-877-725-1149) can certainly provide you with a full routine!!