I’ve been wanting to write a blog about how to turn your kids’ playground adventures into your own personal workout without looking like an idiot, but I couldn’t figure out how to get pictures of myself demonstrating stuff without sounding like a weirdo: “Um, hi! Can you use my camera phone to take some pictures of me doing squats while I push my child on the swing so I can blog about it?”
Thankfully, our recent trip to Montana to visit family offered me the perfect opportunity. My husband was with us, we found a good place to stop and “stretch” that didn’t involve nasty snacks or gross bathrooms, and my healing knee was screaming for some movement. I confess that the prior stop involved exactly that, so we needed a nice clean park where we could get some exercise without pressure to buy any artery cloggers.
|Moochie always adds her own flair to everything … even sliding!|
“This is the best day ever, Mom!” My daughter exclaimed her exaggeration as she flung her feet into the air, and I followed her lead on the swing next door. My knee was enjoying the gentle stretch of “pumping” back and forth, and my abs and arms were also getting a gentle workout as I leaned forward and back, lengthening and tightening my biceps, lats and transverse… such a simple enjoyable motion that indeed has the power to chase away the traveling blues.
“Push me, Mama!” My son is always demanding his own turn, but of course I gave the prerequisite “Say please!” before I obliged him quite willingly because pushing a kid on a swing can be just as much of a workout as swinging on a swing if you do a few extra barely-noticeable things: squat, pull your shoulders back and turn each push into a triceps extension (aka: back of the arm “waddle” worker outer)
|Feet wide, toes turned out, do a little squat as you push and shout!|
Every time your child swings back toward you, do a wide squat and pull your tummy inward to your spine. Stand up as your push your child away up into the air. Be sure to keep your legs wide enough that your knees don’t overshoot your toes. Mine had to be shallow because of my recent knee surgery, but I say I’m doing pretty good for being 8 days post-op.
For a triceps extension that works the back of your arms, just keep your elbows closer together (in line with your shoulders) and bring your hands up in front of your face as you start to push them, finishing your downward motion with your hands in front of your hips. Keep your elbows kind of in one spot the whole time. Concentrate on squeezing along the back of your arms, and use the moments in between pushes to squeeze your shoulder-blades (scapulae) together.
If you push your kid on the swing for 5-10 minutes, swing on one yourself for 5-10 minutes, and climb around on the play structure with them for 5-10 minutes, that’s a lovely 15-30 minute gentle total-body workout! But your kids won’t know you are thinking about anything besides them. Playing with your kids is as good for you as it is for them!
What do you usually see parents and adults doing at the park while their kids play? Do you have any creative fitness ideas for yourself or others to do at the park?