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Welcome to the Jungle GYM: Playground Tips to Get the Whole Family Moving

MILWAUKEE — Little kids don’t have to be told to “get more exercise.” They’re always in motion — constantly leaping, jumping, running and rolling. Kids know something that we adults sometimes forget: the importance of moving.
“So why not take a page from your kids’ or grandkids’ playbook and have fun with them while you get more active?” said Kelly K. James, ACE-certified personal trainer, author and fitness expert for TOPS Club Inc.® (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization. “You’ll not only be getting fitter—you’ll be acting as an awesome role model for the younger people in your life as well.”
Start with one set of these exercises and work up to three of them. You can do this playground workout by yourself or alongside the kids.
Park Bench Pushup
A. Stand about two feet behind a park bench and place your hands about six inches away, in a pushup position, on the back of the bench.
B. Engage your abdominal muscles (abs) — imagine drawing your belly button toward your spine — and keeping your body in a straight line, lower your chest toward the bench until your elbows make 90-degree angles.
C. Press back up to starting position. That’s 1 rep. Try doing 8–12 reps.
Playground Bar Pull
A. Stand under a sturdy bar and grab onto the bar with an overhand grip.
B. Holding tightly onto the bar, and keeping your feet in place, slowly angle your body back, making sure to keep your back straight.
C. Keeping your abs tight, engage your shoulder, back and arm muscles to pull your chest back toward the bar. Try doing 8–12 reps.
Swing Set Calf Raise
A. Stand outside of the swingset and place one hand on the outside of the structure, keeping the other hand free for balance.
B. Draw your belly button back toward your spine and lift your heels off of the ground so that you’re up on your tiptoes. Then pause briefly.
C. Slowly lower your heels back down to the ground. Try doing 8–12 reps.
Five Ideas for Active After-School Fun
“Many family members today spend a lot of time on their screens,” James said. “While smartphones and game consoles may be a constant temptation, there are plenty of ways to help the whole gang get (and stay) more active.”
Here are five after-school activities that, done for 15-20 minutes, will help everyone meet their healthy goals:
Hopscotch: This classic game tests your aim and balance.
Scavenger hunt: Make a list of items (a cardinal or blue shutters on a house, for example) for you and the kids to move around and find.
Flying disc toss: Tossing a toy disc is more about skill than strength, which makes it a great activity for all ages.
Backyard games: Do you still have a croquet set? Or how about bean bag-toss equipment? Set up the game and enjoy some friendly competition.
H-O-R-S-E: Use a nearby basketball hoop to take turns shooting baskets from different spots around the court. If you make a basket and one of the kids misses, s/he gets an “H.” The person who spells out H-O-R-S-E first loses.
The information presented is educational and may not suit an individual’s particular health situation. Always check with a licensed healthcare professional before beginning a new exercise program.
About TOPS: TOPS Club Inc.® (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded in 1948, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise and wellness information.
TOPS has more than 125,000 members—male and female, age seven and older—in thousands of chapters throughout the United States and Canada.