The scene at public playgrounds is a familiar one. Kids scamper around, climbing gym equipment and other obstacles while parents sit nearby, many focused on their smart phones. Take this time to be present with your family and friends or connect with new ones. Enjoy some time away from the technology and distraction. Just being present to watch them will release positive endorphins and have you feeling good watching children play and learn with authentic movement and freedom. Watch and observe them explore the limits of what they can do and get excited by their ability to navigate a challenge.
Or, try getting in a workout with your children—or at least alongside them? Playgrounds are not always age appropriate for adults, however swings, slides and climbing offer great opportunities. Perhaps try to walk around the perimeter of the playground’s railroad ties and challenge your balance. If not, you can get a great workout in the same vicinity while keeping an eye on the kids. Here are a few ideas you could try:
• Start with some Movement Prep, one of the signature routines of the EXOS system. Lateral squats are a great way to open up the hips, and the World’s Greatest Stretch is an effective full-body warm-up that can be done on grass.
• Instead of sitting on the park bench, use it as a piece of exercise equipment, try some push-ups. If push-ups don’t come easy for you, use the back of the bench rather than the seat. Start with a set of 10 of each and work your way down continuously to sets of 8, 6, 4, and 2.
• You can also use the monkey bars and just hang for a deep stretch or use it as a pull-up bar. Or challenge yourself to go across the monkey bars, Since you probably haven’t tackled the monkey bars since childhood, take it slow and be sure to include some shoulder prehab beforehand by doing some standing Ys, Ts, and Ls after your Movement Prep routine.
• Some playgrounds have rock walls or faux rocks big enough for adults to climb. If not, challenge yourself to a set of 30 to 40 mountain climbers.
• Many playgrounds have hard plastic tunnels to crawl through. These test your hip and shoulder mobility. Like the monkey bars, such challenges are part of any obstacle race. Follow your kid(s) through the tunnels. They will love doing something faster and more effectively than you.
No matter the playground layout, it’s possible to create routines to produce a challenging workout. Since finding time to train can be a challenge, especially with kids in tow, improvising at a playground is productive multitasking. Kids will see you as a role model and you’ll be reminded why it’s important to put down the phone and make time to play
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