Taking your workout outdoors can provide a nice change of scenery, and in turn, can reinvigorate a stale workout routine. In fact, according to new research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, exercising outside for as little as five minutes a day can have more of a mood-boosting effect than working out in a gym. Outdoor workouts are also a busy mom’s best friend, enabling her to exercise while spending time with the kids.
Outdoor workouts at the park
Jessica Matthews, MS, American Council on Exercise (ACE) academy exercise scientist, says busy moms can be active outdoors with their kids in tow in any number of ways. “When you take your children to the park, use playground equipment as your personal open-air gym,” she suggests as an example. Other ideas include doing chin-ups using the monkey bars, and doing step-ups and tricep dips using a bench.
Adrian Garce, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based personal trainer, suggests using a park bench to do this quick workout routine:
- Step-ups onto the bench, 10 to 12 on each foot.
- 10 to 12 modified pushups using the bench instead of the ground.
- Repeat up to three times.
“This is just as effective as going for a bike ride or using free weights because you’re using your own weight as resistance,” says Garce. “Playing with your children at the park by throwing around a baseball, shooting hoops, playing tag, etc. is a great way to increase your activity level and have a great time with your kids,” adds Matthews.
Outdoor workouts that torch calories
Here are some estimates on the number of calories Matthews says a mom will burn doing these activities:
- Walk/run- playing with child(ren), moderate intensity: 143 calories
- Pushing a stroller with child: 90 calories
- Heavy cleaning outside the house (e.g., washing the car, washing windows): 161 calories
- Walking, 3 mph (20 min/mile), moderate pace: 125 calories
- Running (12-minute mile): 286 calories
*Values are based on a 150-pound individual, completing the specified activity for 30 minutes
Don’t sit and wait
Another sneaky way to increase your fitness level is to add more activity to your daily activities. For example, instead of sitting in the waiting room during your child’s doctor appointment, go for a short walk around the building. Just let the receptionist know to ring you on your cell phone when it’s your child’s turn to go into the exam room.
Outdoor exercise you enjoy
No matter what type of workout you’re considering, remember that you have plenty of options, including biking, walking, running, circuit training (using portable pieces of equipment, such as dumbbells, medicine balls, resistance tubing) and bodyweight exercises, such as lunges, squats, push-ups, etc. “The key is to choose an activity that you enjoy, not one that feels like a chore,” says Garce.
More playground exercise ideas
Swing set fitness: Exercise with a playground swings
Swing set fitness is a form of resistance training that is perfect for weight loss and strength training. Watch this video for examples of swing set exercises for the legs, chest, shoulders, arms, butt, core and other muscles.