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8 Playground Games That Can Benefit Your Health

Why is it that when we grow up, exercise all of a sudden becomes a workout? Kids can run around all day — and they’d never call it work! As adults, we need to think outside the box when it comes to workouts and make them as fun as possible. There are tons of ways you can stay active at the playground. If you’ve got kids, start playing all of those games you’ve taken a break from. Not only will you get good quality time as a family, but you’ll get tons of health benefits. Today, Chris Freytag, ACE-certified group fitness instructor, health coach and personal trainer, shares those long-forgotten playground games that are guaranteed to get your body working while being fun.

women playing tug of war

8 Playground Games You Should Still Play

1. Tug of war. It works both your core and arms, and you’ll be so focused on winning you won’t even realize it!

2. Hula hooping. Hula-hooping works core and leg strength, as well as balance. Weighted hula hooping may actually be easier for adults because they’re larger and easier to use. Take a hula-hooping class or do a video to get your heart rate up.

3. Jump rope. Jumping rope is a good cardio workout. It’s the easiest, cheapest way to get your heart rate up. Plus, it’ll work your legs hard.

4. Kickball. Classic kickball will work leg muscles, core strength and stamina.

5. Horse. Just like a regular game of basketball, it’s great for your arms. It’ll work your chest and shoulders, too. For more cardio, play a game of one-on-one.

6. Hopscotch. It’s a good way to work on balance, as well as quad and calf muscles. Plus, you’ll get in some squats to pick up your rock.

7. Capture the Flag. Lots of running = nice workout for your heart and lungs. Most cardiovascular of all games listed, it’ll also work your agility.

8. Kick the Can. Since it’s a combo of hide-and-seek and tag, it can get your heart pumping from all the running. Plus you’re building strength in your legs from the running.

So how long do you need to play to get the benefits? Don’t stress about it! The CDC recommends that we get 150 minutes of heart pumping exercise a week, which is 2 ½ hours. So pick your favorites, and do whatever keeps you motivated to play. Take the word “exercise” out of your vocabulary and do what is fun and makes you want to be active! One way to determine the benefits of these games are through body-monitoring devices like the BodyMedia armband; you may be pleasantly surprised how these childhood games add up to a lot of activity, calories burned and an overall great workout.

Great advice, Chris! We’re all about making fitness fun, and this proves you don’t have to hit the gym to get a workout. What’s your favorite game from your youth? I was always a fan of dodgeball and capture the flag! —Erin

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