Amongst the normal day-to-day craziness of raising littles, it can be really hard finding time to be active between all the extra summer fun. I’ve found some simple ways to add a little extra activity into my day, simply by using my surroundings when we’re outside, specifically when we visit the park. We are so fortunate to have tons of great park and playground options here in Marshalltown.
First and foremost, we try to walk anywhere we’re going as much as we can. Pulling my thirty-six-pound toddler in wagon has proven itself to be quite the workout, especially on that last brutal uphill stretch before we get back home! If you’ve got younger kids that still let you push them in a stroller, you can also do walking lunges in intervals between normal walking.
Once you get to the park, try some or all of the following workouts. I’ve actually found it to be more fun than just sitting there watching my son play, and sometimes he even joins me! I take this as a double win since I hope to instill the importance of an active lifestyle in my children.
Easy Exercises You Can Do At the Park
- Look for some type of raised edge or border surrounding the playground equipment. This is a great place to do tricep dips and tone up the back of your arms. If you want to intensify this workout, look for a park bench or picnic table for a deeper angle.
- You can use that same raised edge or a set of stairs leading up to a slide to do feet-elevated push-ups (more advanced) or hand-elevated push-ups (beginner – slight regression from a standard push-up).
- This is also a great place to do a straight-arm plank (hold for 30-60 seconds). These exercises will help strengthen your arms and core.
- Using the park bench or picnic table seat, you can do step-ups to help tone your backside.
- If there are not standard monkey bars, look for any metal bar that is at least eye level or higher. I’ve used this to do an isometric pull-up or chin-up. For a more advanced version, try doing a standard pull-up or chin-up (I’m having flashbacks to gym class). Disclaimer: despite the upper body strength I must’ve had to carry around a car seat in one hand and several bags of groceries in the other, I’m actually pretty weak in my arms. I personally stick to the isometric holds.
- Depending on the park or playground, there may be a basketball or tennis court, or maybe even a track or soccer field with visible lines on the ground. One way to add a little cardio is running drills. I have actually made it into a game with my toddler and he seems to enjoy it! Full honesty, this is my least favorite exercise but MAN is it effective. I race my son to touch the first line, and then race him back. Then we race further to the second line, and back, and so on. This is a good way to practice interval training, which is short bursts of exercise followed by rest.
I do have a few additional tips when it comes to exercise:
First, make sure you warm up before you do any of the bodyweight exercises listed above. If you walked to the park, you’ve killed two birds with one stone! Otherwise you can do a few jumping jacks, skip around with littles or play tag… anything to get that blood flowing.
Second, try to keep track of how many of these exercises you are doing. Each “rep” is how many times you do the exercise. Each “set” is how often you repeat the “reps” of exercise. Keep track so you can push yourself the next time. If you do 3 sets of 8 tricep dips this time, try 4 sets next time.
Third, make sure you bring plenty of water to keep yourself and your littles hydrated. Summer heat is no joke!
Finally, listen to your body. If it hurts – don’t do it. There are ways to ease into these exercises and if you’re unsure about starting any exercise regime, pretty please talk with your doctor!