Special THANKS goes out to Barbara Holland of Blackstone Studio for her illustrations in this article – they really make the exercises easy to understand! If you’re looking for a great graphic/web/blog designer or photographer, Blackstone Studio is highly recommended.

As published in the August issue of Natural Awakenings Magazine:

Your kids aren’t the only ones who can have fun and burn calories at the park. It’s time to turn off those smartphones and turn that outdoor time at the park playground into a calorie-blasting workout. This full-body circuit workout uses general park equipment – kid participation is optional, but you might find that exercise can be fun when you add some friendly competition for the whole family.

Warm-up: Start with a 5 to 10-minute warm-up to prepare your body for exercise. Walk briskly or jog a few laps around the playground. Next do some squats, leg swings, arm circles and butt kicks. Finally do 3 sets of 10 jumping jacks, a great dynamic exercise that uses nearly every muscle and prepares the body for impact.

Circuit 1

1) Lower Body – Head for the slide or monkey bars for the ladder climb exercise. You’ll actually be using the ladder to help kick your rear into gear. Face the ladder and hold the rails for support. With the left leg, step up to the highest rung possible. Shift the weight to the left foot and bring the right foot up to meet the left. Immediately return the right foot to the ground leaving the left foot in place. Do 10-15 reps then switch legs and repeat.

2) Upper Body – Use a park bench for these bench dips that fight flab on the back of your arms. Start by sitting on the bench with arms braced behind you, hands flat on the bench with fingers facing forward. Slide your rear forward off the bench and place your legs at a 90 degree angle in front of you. Bend your elbows until your arms are at a 90-degree angle then push through your hands to return to the starting, straight-armed position. You’ll feel your triceps working hard! Do 10-15 reps.

Make it harder: straighten your legs to make the arms support more of your body weight and work harder.

3) Core – The hanging leg raise exercise targets the entire core and starts by hanging from the monkey bars. Get a good grip and let your feet fall toward the ground. Keeping your legs straight, slowly lift them until they are as close to parallel to the ground as possible. Do 10-15 reps.

Make it harder: Continue to lift the legs past parallel and try to touch your toes to the monkey bar between your hands.

4) Heart – High intensity interval training can boost metabolism and increase calorie burn during and after workouts, so let’s incorporate some sprint intervals here. Pick two points that you can run between, for example two trees. Sprint as fast as you can from one to the other and then walk or jog back to the starting point. Repeat five times to get the heart pumping.

Repeat the above circuit once more after 2-4 minutes of rest.

Be sure to pick up the September issue of Natural Awakenings Magazine where you’ll find a second circuit to give you more variety when spending cool fall days at your local park.

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