Fit&Happier Workout of the Month defined: These are 30 minute general fitness workouts designed to offer a complete and balanced approach to strength and cardiovascular training in the most efficient way possible. Strength training workouts will each feature a different form of resistance, or load, so that you can choose the type of resistance based on equipment availability and your preference. These will offer full-body strength training and muscle toning with base exercises appropriate for beginners and progressions for those more experienced in strength training. Cardio workouts are designed to get the most calorie burn possible in the time allotted. Combo workouts combine strength and cardio training into one, efficient, full-body, calorie-burning workout. All workouts conclude with flexibility training as no workout is complete without it. Click on the exercises to link to step-by-step written and video instructions provided by ACE Fitness.
Put Fun Back into Exercise
This month’s workout will get your heart pumping, strengthen muscles and build bones. But this is unlike any of my previous workouts of the month. This is minimally structured and I forbid you to count reps, monitor your heart rate, or measure distance or any other parameter. If you must, you may set a timer. The only requirement is to act like a kid.
If you are a parent, I recommend doing this as a family or, at least, as a one parent-one child endeavor. No kids? Do this workout with your partner or a friend. If you live near a childhood friend, someone you may have done some of these games with in real life way back when, you’ll have a blast with this. However, it can be done alone, simply select from the activities that don’t require a partner. Even solo, it’ll be more fun and nostalgic than any other workout you’d do. This isn’t a really a workout, it’s play time!
Gather your participants and equipment and select a location. To do a sampling of every activity you would need: 2+ participants, hula hoops, jump ropes, a set of monkey bars, pavement and sidewalk chalk. But, there are plenty of options here to give a family a great workout without the need for any equipment. A playground would be an ideal spot but a park would work too. If you prefer some privacy, there’s no reason this couldn’t be done in your own backyard or even adapted for a deck or patio.
Select two or more activities from each of the cardio, combo and strength categories below. For your first activity, chose a moderate exercise from the cardio category to serve as a warm-up. Decide how you’ll determine the end point for each activity to move onto the next activity. If you have the space, all the equipment and the time available, you could do a sampling of all the activities. Or, if you’re limited to fewer options, repeat those activities until you have reached the minimum 20 minute workout time, not counting stretch time.
Cardio Activities: These are meant to get your heart rate up but aren’t considered to have a significant strength training component. Keep in mind the abilities of the participants. For example: Grandpa can speed walk, Mom can jog and little Susie can sprint.
- Hula Hooping (moderate)
- Speed Walking (moderate)
- Tag (moderate to vigorous)
- Jogging/Running (moderate to vigorous)
- Sprinting (vigorous)
Combo Activities: Activities that include plyometrics, like jumping, have both cardio and strengthening components to them.
- Skipping: forward or sideways (moderate)
- Hopscotch (moderate)
- Simon Says Game with Jumping Jacks, Kicks, Air Punches and Push-Ups (moderate to vigorous)
- Leapfrog (moderate to vigorous)
- Skipping Rope (moderate to vigorous)
- Jumping Rope (vigorous)
Strength Activities: Again, keep in mind the abilities and limitations of your participants and select or adjust accordingly. It’s fun only if everyone can participate and enjoy doing so.
- Push Ups: on knees or toes (moderate)
- Cartwheels, Hand Stands or Summersaults (moderate)
- “Walking” Hands on Monkey Bars (moderate to vigorous)
- Wheelbarrow Race: pictured above (moderate to vigorous)
- Pull-Ups or Chin-Ups (vigorous)
Stretch: Be sure you leave enough time to stretch, no workout is complete without proper stretching. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Some examples:
- Standing Chest Stretch
- Cat-Cow: Stretches abs, back, chest & shoulders
- Lat Stretch: Stretches back & abs
- Side Straddle Bends: Full body stretch; be sure to stretch both sides
- Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch: Be sure to stretch both sides
A sample playground workout: skip from that tree to the monkey bars; each of us will take a turn going back and forth on the monkey bars; hula hoop for five minutes; wheelbarrow race from the slide to the tree, switch places, and wheelbarrow back to the slide; play tag until everyone has been “it”; do 10 leapfrogs; repeat the circuit; 5 stretches from above.
Need some refreshers on game rules and techniques? Check out Wikipedia’s Guide to Traditional Kid Games.
Previous Fit&Happier Workouts of the Month – January: Body Weight Strength Training; February: Resistance Band Strength Training; March: Free Weight Strength Training; April: Medicine Ball Strength Training; May: Strength Training with Stability Ball; June: Strength & Balance Training; July: Functional Training; August: Interval Training
Check back for these upcoming Fit&Happier Workouts of the Month – October: Outdoor Cardio & Strength Combo; November: Timed Circuit (Combo); December: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training-Cardio)
Click on the link to view previous Activity-Specific Workouts of the Month: Hockey & Cross-Country Skiing, Snowboarding & Figure Skating, Golf & Softball, Distance Running, Racquet Sports, Swimming, Waterskiing & Surfing, Cycling, Rowing & Desk Jockeys, Track, Field & Court Sports, Throwing & Pitching, Dancing, Downhill Skiing