Fun Exercise: Relive Recess!
- Thursday, 20 October 2011
If you walk into any given shopping center today, you are likely find a dental spa, a do-it-yourself dog bath salon, or a car wash with massages offered while you wait for your wheels to be shined. If there is one thing members of our society have in common – it is fun! We want to be entertained at whatever we are doing. Time is valuable, so if we are going to spend our time on something, even if it is good for us, it needs to be fun. So, it is not a surprise that we are going back to recess and the playground for ideas to stay fit. Jump rope, dodge ball, monkey bars, and hopscotch are all grin-inducing activities. So the question is: why did we ever stop?
When we work out to strengthen and tone our bodies, the idea is to exhaust the muscles so the body can rebuild the muscle stronger and leaner. Cardio burns calories and fat, and gets our heart pumping, which builds up our cardiovascular endurance and makes us feel more agile and young; basically, we can play longer and easier with less effort. With enough toning and strengthening, combined with cardiovascular fitness, we can climb that hillside of stairs at any age and feel great!
So the question on the minds of today’s generation of fun lovers might be, “How do I accomplish this, without taking the FUN out of my day?” The answer is simple: Play like it is recess!
The first lesson we learn from recess is attitude. Remember sitting in class, waiting for the bell to ring, so you could hit the playground? Finally the clock would move and with the sound of the bell came screams of joy, arms waving, kids charging for the balls and jump ropes, racing out because recess never lasts long enough. What a winning attitude!
When you are getting ready for your workout, play music that pumps you up, and drink lots of fresh water. Make plans to meet a friend on the “playground” and get excited, it is time to play!
The next lesson we learn from our recess days is that variety keeps it interesting. Most likely, whether you are a girl or boy, you remember the field, the swings and bars, the lines on the ground used for line tag and hopscotch, the jump rope and more. All of these different activities use different muscle and skill sets, which are all beneficial to growing kids.
As adults, we want to continually exercise different muscle groups. Additionally, different workouts benefit us in different ways. Yoga can help with strength and balance, running helps with cardio and strength, and dance helps with cardio, strength and coordination. The best part about variety in fitness is that it keeps us entertained. Tired of walking? Do some water aerobics!
Playing With Urgency
Possibly the most important recess tip in this article is this one: play with urgency. As kids, we played with urgency because we understood that RECESS WAS SHORT. We could establish teams and rules and be playing full team sports faster than you can say, “Walk please!” We could play a full game of hopscotch, a round of tetherball, go across the monkey bars all before the final bell rang. The reason we could do all of these things is because we gave these short time frames of play our full force effort.
In order to increase our endurance (meaning the amount of time we can spend with our heart rate at an elevated level) we can follow the recess lesson by giving a full effort to the activity we choose. For example, try running for 30 minutes a few times a week:
Run the first 10 minutes at a comfortable pace, where you can hold a conversation.
Run the next 15 minutes as fast as you can while maintaining your breath; don’t overdo any exercise, but really push your own personal limits.
Run at a slower pace for the last 5 minutes to cool down.
Another fun way to increase your endurance is by combining cardio with props. Try jumping rope or hoola hooping for 1 minute, rest for 20 seconds. In each 1-minute set, count how many jumps or spins you make. See if you can increase this number over time. If this becomes easy, try using a weighted hoola hoop, found at most sporting goods stores. You will see the most changes in your body and in your endurance when you really give your all to your fitness. Choose lower impact workouts for the days when you need it, and also have days of rest scheduled in order to recover.
Personally, my favorite playground memory was swinging on the swings with my friend, feeling the air underneath us, and singing the theme song from “The Greatest American Hero.” Now, as adults, one of our favorite activities to do together is to go for walks. We get time to talk and enjoy some fresh air. And when we see a swing set, we go running full force to race for the “good” swing. I usually win though, because “believe it or not, I’m walking on air!”
Written by Katrina Goldberg, RockIt Body Pilates