How to Workout on a Park Playground!

A common misconception when beginning an active lifestyle is that you have to have a gym membership, you have to run on the treadmill, you have to lift weights, and you have to go every single day for two hours. If you can and want that incorporated in your life, then great! But if not, you need to know that there are many more less expensive and much more creative ways to accomplish the same active lifestyle goal that you want. Parks offer ENDLESS possibilities. Most of what you can do at the gym, you can do the park. Read that again. You can work the same muscle groups and accomplish the same active lifestyle goal at a park. How? Using your resources! Below offers many different exercises that you can do on a playground! These are great exercises to add to your daily walk or run!

First things first, WARM UP! If you decide to do this playground workout after your run, still make sure to stretch before, you don’t want to pull a muscle! For a productive warm up, start with dynamic movements like lunges (3 x 10 each leg), squats (3 x 15), jumping jacks (3 x 45 sec), push-ups (3 x 10), and arm circles/swings (3 x 30 seconds each direction). These movements will get your blood flowing and warm up your muscles so that you will not injury yourself. Warming up before and stretching after a workout are very important to prevent injuries, so do not skip them! For a cool down stretch, you can try the cat-cow stretch (2 x 30 sec), child’s pose (2 x 30 sec), seated twist (2 x 30 sec each side), overhead shoulder stretch ( 2 x 30 sec each arm), hamstring stretch ( 2 x 30 sec each leg), lunge stretch (2 x 30 sec each leg), sitting toe touch ( 2 x 30 sec)

Playground Exercises: (ex. “3 x 10” = 3 rounds per exercise, 10 reps per round)

  • Alternating Step Ups: (3 x 10 each leg)
    • Find a bench or elevated platform (steps, slide, etc)
      • Step up with one leg, while exploding the other knee upwards. Then step down and switch legs.
  • Elevated Toe Tap: (3 x 30 sec)
    • Use a step or the bottom of the slide
      • Face the step and quickly jump and switch feet, touching the ball of your foot to the edge of the step
  • Calf Raises: (3 x 15-20)
    • Find a step or curb
      • Place the ball of your foot on the edge of the step. Slowly drop the your heel toward the ground (you will feel the stretch in the calf), then push up with your toes (like a tippy toe)
  • Bulgarian Split Squat:
    • You can use a bench, step (about knee high), or a swing
      • Place your foot on the bench behind you, while you are face forward (you may need to adjust to make sure you are comfortable), You will then bend your¬†standing leg (do not let your knee go past your toe). This will resemble a lunge motion!
  • Inclined Push-ups: (3 x 10)
    • Use the back of a bench, a bar (there are a ton to choose from on a playground), wall
      • Perform your normal push-up form, keeping your core tight
  • Decline Push-ups: (3 x 10)
    • Use a step, bench, slide (whichever height you prefer)
      • With your feet on the step, perform your normal push-up
  • Tricep Dips: (3 x 10)
    • Use a bench, step, slide, or platform
      • Sit on the bench and put your hands on the bench next to your hips. With your legs extended, lift yourself up pushing into your palms, and slide your body forward just enough so you can lower yourself down so that your elbows bend between 45-90 degrees. Then push yourself up to the start positions and repeat. *You can modify this by bending your knees instead of of having them extended.
  • Basic Monkey Bars:
    • Swing from one bar to the next just like you did as kid. If you struggle with these, just start out by hanging or step one hand forward and bring the other forward, instead of swinging to the next. These will work your shoulders, core, and arms
  • Hanging Knee Tuck: ( 3 x 8-10)
    • Use monkey bars or a pull-up bar
      • While holding on to the monkey bars, hanging with your feet together, keep your core tight and bring your legs to your chest
  • Hanging Leg Lift: (3 x 10)
    • Use monkey bars or pull up bar
      • While holding on to the monkey bars, hanging with your feet together, keep your core tight, and lift your legs straight in front of you
  • Laying Leg Lifts: (3 x 10)
    • Use a pole or bottom of a bench or step
      • Lay on your back with your head closest to the pole. Hold the pole with both hands, keep your core tight, and left your legs up towards the pole. Then slowly let your legs go¬† back towards the ground and stopping right before your feet touch the ground (your abs will feel the burn). *Keep your legs straight
  • Swing Ab Curls:
    • Place both your feet on the swing, while your hands are are shoulder with in of you (you will be in a extended plank position). Pull your into the chest and then extend them back to the starting position.

Try some of these exercises out the next time you go to the park! You can mix it up and pair a few together ( i.e. Core day… laying leg lifts, Swing ab curls, hanging knee tuck, push-ups). Go at your own pace and modify each to your ability! One exercise is better than none, so get creative and enjoy some outdoor exercises!