Well to be fair, maybe not me because I tend to play a decent amount but adults in general need to play more. When we were children we used to take any opportunity to walk like a duck, skip, jump, throw a ball, play a new game, or just do cartwheels in the field. As adults we schedule our play time like we schedule our work and believe that ‘pain is gain’ and ‘sweat is your fat cells crying’… what about making joy and fun a part of our movement routine? I can’t help but practice things that make me giggle and bring the joy of my youth back.
Here is a fun playground movement practice or workout you can try on a day you feel like being a kid again, on vacation, with your kiddos or just for the joy of it!
Find a playground, ideally next to a field.
Find creative ways to walk up and down the field… pigeon toe, duck foot, really high on your toes, really close to the ground, inside arches, outside arches, heel to toe and toe to heel. Then imagine the field as half and half… hot coals going down the field and then sticky mud coming back. Do this 2-4 times with 10 jumping jacks at each end and this should have you nice and warm.
If you have a partner to move with, you could play a fun game of tag between the knee and hip. Both go at the same time and see who can get more touches in a 1-2 minute period. Touches only count if they land between the knee and the hip. Face each other and stay close to each other as your goal is to get the most # of touches in that minute.
The ‘workout’ or ‘play session’ asks that you go through these movements as many times as you have time for. I personally like to do 3-5x through the whole movement session. Don’t worry about spending too much or too little time doing things and make sure to enjoy the motions and get creative with it.
~Crab walk - 30 sec
~Bear crawl - 30 sec
~Bunny hop and hold - find something that you can safely double leg takeoff jump up onto with a one leg landing. For me this is a height of about shin height. If this isn’t possible to find then pick a spot on the ground and aim for it, jump and stick that single leg landing like a gymnast! Hop and then hold your balance on that single leg for a count of 5… you may be wiggly and wobbly and that is great! Then do it again on the other leg. 5x/leg
~Balance - find something that looks like a balance beam and walk forward and backward, pivot, try looking straight in front of you if you are struggling with your balance. If you find it easy then make sure to try looking around more and moving less gracefully as this will make it harder to balance. Easier things to balance on include wider surfaces and things close to the ground like a curb or a 4x4 that holds the sand in. Harder things to balance on will be narrower like the top of a park bench, top of a railing, or anything shaky. Have fun with this and remember to start easy and work your way to harder balancing surfaces as you get better with your balance.
~Monkey bars - if it is a middle school playground there should be something you can monkey bar across and back. If this is too hard or there are no monkey bars then simply hang from the bar for as long as you can.
~Under, over, around and through - weave your way through the equipment. Go up the stairs and down the slide, under the steps and through the other side, weave through and around. Get creative in this and if you have a partner in play take turns leading through the equipment at the playground and make it your own obstacle course.
A few ways to add more fun into your daily life:
~Learn to juggle :: tennis balls are super cheap and it is a great way to work out the mind and the body at the same time. And once mastered you can say “Hello have I got a party trick for you!”
~Find a sport you loved as a child and start doing it again. Was it skipping? Skating? Roller skating? Tennis? Golf? Hiking? For me it was hopping on a bike and making my ever-loving Grandmother watch me go whizzing by! If she could only see the speeds I hit now that my training wheels are gone…
~No idea what to do? Ask a kid in your life what their favourite game is and join in. Learning a new game can bring on the giggle fits too!
*And if I still haven’t convinced you that adult play is worth your while check out this video from Darryl Edwards, The Primal Play Expert. It should inspire you to play a bit more… it did for me!*
Movement does not have to be structured all of the time and it really can be a heap of fun. Our goal of going to the gym can be for performance, fitness and general health... but in my mind it should always be pushing us towards the ultimate goal of rocking our adventures and activities outside of the gym.
Written by: Rosemary Whelpdale
Wellness Entrepreneur & Owner of Pulse Spa Vernon
Passionate about health, movement, the human body and how to live your best life!
Former University Women’s Hockey Player
Professional Mountain Bike Instructor (PMBIA) Level 1, MovNat Level 1, Agatsu Kettlebell Level 1, Precision Nutrition Level 1