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Playful ways to get in shape

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), the leading authority on fitness in the US, is a nonprofit organization committed to enriching quality of life through safe and effective exercise and physical activity. ACE is a provider of ongoin...

Play yourself fit

Spring is in the air, meaning shorts and bikini season is on the near horizon. If you are getting tired of your workout routine or need a jumpstart back into exercise, do something fun to get fit and utilize your favorite childhood toys as exercise equipment for a fun, free workout you can do in your own home or even outside as the weather begins warming up. The American Council on Exercise (ACE ) recommends the following playtime-based workouts to get fit while you're having fun.

Happy woman jumping rope

Jump Rope

Lightly grip the handles near the end closest to the rope. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your body, bending your knees slightly. Turn the rope from the wrist and aim to keep a smooth arc in the rope as it passes over your head. Jump low to keep the impact on your knees and ankles to a minimum, jumping for 15 to 20 minutes. To create a fun and exciting workout, turn on some upbeat music to get you motivated. Once you have mastered basic jumping, get a little creative – jump backwards, cross your legs, and hop on one foot.

Calories burned: About 11 calories per minute.

Hula Hoop

Hula hooping can strength the core, improve balance, and, if done for an extended period of time, serve as a great aerobic workout. Start with a weighted hoop, which is actually easier for beginners to start with, holding the hoop to your waist at your lower back. Concentrate on activating your stomach muscles, standing with one foot in front of the other, and rock back and forth to maintain momentum. Use your arms to maintain your balance, keeping your posture lifted and holding arms out to the side. Once you've mastered the basics, attempt turning a circle in the same direction as your hoop. Don't worry if you drop it!

Calories burned: Hula hooping can burn up to 350 calories per hour.

Exergaming

While ACE has found in studies that the Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit have underwhelming fitness benefits, certain games are better calorie burners than others. Be sure to get up on your feet and get your entire body involved in the games to maximize your calorie burn. Mix up the games you do and aim to keep your heart rate up.

Calories burned: Thirty minutes playing the boxing game from Wii Sports can burn 216 calories, while Wii Sports Tennis burns up to 159 calories per half hour.

More fun ways to get fit

Visit www.AceFitness.org for even more ways to shred calories, tone up and improve your health.

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