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5 Playground Exercises for Parents (and Kids at Heart)

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Remember when you were a kid, and you'd spend countless hours swinging, sliding, pushing, hanging and climbing at the park or playground? You didn't realize it then, but you weren't just playingyou were also getting some pretty amazing exercise.

Life may not be as carefree as it was back then, but you don't have to be a kid to turn workouts into child's play. We asked trainer Tamara from The Workout Mama  for her favorite exercises to do at the playground. You won't need any fancy equipment and because many of these are compound moves (working more than one muscle group at a time), you can quickly get in a full-body workout and still enjoy some play time afterward.


Muscles Worked: Shoulders, trapezoids, lats
Beginner: 10 Reps
Intermediate: 15 Reps
Advanced: 20 Reps
  1. Hold onto low monkey bars, parallel bars or any piece of playground equipment. To increase the difficulty of the exercise, walk your feet forward and come onto your heels with your toes pointing upward.
  2. Elbows should be pulled in close to your sides and your chest should be very close to the frame.
  3. Slowly extend your arms as you keep your body in a straight line. Pause at the bottom of the movement and use your arms to return to a starting position.

Image and exercise courtesy of Tamara at The Workout Mama


Muscles Worked: Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Core
Beginner: 10 Reps
Intermediate: 15 Reps
Advanced: 20 Reps

(If you're not working out with your children, you can always push an empty swing or squat near another piece of playground equipment for balance.)
  1. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, with your hands in front of you as you push your baby in a swing.
  2. Sit back and down as though you’re lowering yourself into an imaginary chair. Keep your head facing straight ahead as your upper body bends forward a bit. Lower down so your thighs are as close as parallel to the ground as possible, with your knees over your ankles.
  3. Press your weight back into your heels. Return to starting position and repeat.
Image and exercise courtesy of Tamara at The Workout Mama

Swing Pike

Muscles Worked: Shoulders, Chest, Core
Beginner: 5 Reps
Intermediate: 10 Reps
Advanced: 15 Reps
  1. Place both legs on a swing just above the ankles and come to a plank position.
  2. While pressing down with your legs, pull your core in and lift your hips.
  3. Work on stacking your hips over your shoulders and take your gaze toward the swing. (This is tough, so don’t worry if you can’t do it the first time!)

Image and exercise courtesy of Tamara at The Workout Mama

Swing Single Leg Squats

Muscles Worked: Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings
Beginner: 6 Reps (Each Leg)
Intermediate: 8-10 Reps (Each Leg)
Advanced: 12 Reps (Each Leg)
  1. Place one foot on top of a swing and hop the other foot forward.
  2. Bend the standing leg, trying to get your thigh parallel to the ground. Make sure the knee is over the ankle and not past the toes.
  3. Return to standing and repeat.

Image and exercise courtesy of Tamara at The Workout Mama

Jumping Pull Ups

Muscles Worked: Core, Shoulders, Lats, Biceps
Beginner: 1-2 Reps
Intermediate: 5 Reps
Advanced: 10 Reps
  1. Position yourself directly below the bar. Make sure that you can reach the pull up bar from a standing position.
  2. Using an underhand grip, grab the bar. When you’re sure you have a good hold on it, slowly pull yourself up. If you’re not ready for a full pullup, it’s okay to slowly progress to being able to pull yourself all the way up. 
  3. Just as with regular pull ups, you must put your chin over the top of the bar. The difference is that you’re using your legs to jump up with each rep and propel your body to that top position.
  4. Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat.

Image and exercise courtesy of Tamara at The Workout Mama

Would you consider doing any of these workouts at your local playground? Have you ever done any of these workouts before?

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Great, fun ideas! Report
What a great idea Report
I like these--but bet I am not coordinated enough to do the swing ones. Report
GREAT Report
This is a great idea for a young mom with a baby or toddler. Report
great idea. I might try them. Report
Just read a similar article on this same subject in Shape Magazine this morning. Must mean I need to go play at the playground Report
this was interesting but some looked dangerous Report
This would be great for my (very fit) 20 year old daughter. As a matter of fact she just told me yesterday she went to the park to exercise. Or like the commercial with the dad doing them WITH his kid. I'm 60 so for me, not so much! Report
GREAT ideas! LOVE playgrounds! Report
Thanks for the great ideas! :) Report
I will look at playgrounds in a different light now! Report
It's great acting like a kid, and getting fit at the same time!!! Report
Great ideas Report
During this period in our lives, we never thought this was exercise! Our parents had one up on us, SparkFriends! Enjoy your play day! Report
love the swing and need to see what else I can do Report
Some of the ideas are not great things to show kids to try the swing idea looks dangerous . chin ups as will i did take the five points but will not be trying any of the silly ideas Report
I'm sorry but without children to accompany me, I would feel ridiculous doing this. This is not a practical challenge. I will replace it with something equivalent. Report
I would never do this in the kid's area of our local playground. I would choose to do similar exercises and have kid-type fun. There are plenty of free apps for any who wish to exercise. Report
These exercises seem to be more for people already fit. They are not for us older ones with bad joints and pins holding together. I play at the park with the kids. Pushing them if not swinging also. Tag. Walk circling the play area when need to do so. Report
This app is no longer available for IOS. Report
Nice idea.....but not so easily accomplished by people living in rural areas, or by people with physical limitations. Report
My small town doesn't offer any public playground equipment that I'm aware of. That's OK. I intend to go out and play in the dirt (veggie & flower gardens). Report
The best playground workout I do is playing tag with the kids! We run across the bridges, go down (or up) the slides, jump over the swings, over the rock walls, etc. It's so much more fun that a structured workout & doesn't require thinking! :P Report
FINALLY! Folks are getting on the same page with us grown-ups who love to play outdoors. Move over, grandkids. LOLOL... Report
I am 63 and wouldn't attempt to do any of these exercises. What is wrong with just playing on the swings, see-saw and merry-go-round? Having fun while using muscles just to enjoy ourselves. Report
I wish you could track your exercise on sparkpeople for swinging. Yeah just plain ol' swinging. I still like to swing and do it often at the park with my children. Report
Love these ideas :)
Going to give this a try next time I'm outside and near a playground :) Report
i always try to stop at a playground and use the swings and seesaw, i would love to use the apps but these days most apps are made for iPhones and no longer Blackberrys. Report
No, I would not purchase anything to help me play at the park, for heaven's sakes. Pretty soon there will be an app for exercising in your bathroom, time to get realistic please. Notice our economy is not doing well yet? Report
These are all great ways to workout while enjoying the grandchildren, Thank you for sharing Nancy. Report
My kids are teenagers and don't know any small kids. Unfortunately the parks near my home needs some work on the playground equipment. The equipment is always broken. Report
Cool! An easy way to fit in a workout while the kids play. Report
I get on the swings with my daughter, lean back so my abs are engaged an swing until my abs are too tired. :) Report
Great idea...but I don't have kids, so it might seem a little odd. Report
I'm super excited to try some of these the next time we go to the state park. Report
Looks good but I would feel like an idiot doing these things at a public park. I don't even like to work out in front of my hubby. But maybe I can work in some less obvious exercises to do while I play with my son. Report
If we do these exercises do you promise that we will look like the women demonstrating them? My balance is horrible so if I did the swing lunge, I would promptly fall on my face. Most of the exercises would look kind of strange to do in a public park. I like the idea of going there to play and run around with our kids though. Mine is a bit old for the park but maybe I could borrow the neighbor's kid. Report
Can't wait to go to the playground with my nine year old. Report
What a cool idea. If only I could still do the monkey bars... Report
I don't even have kids and those would be fun ways to get some extra burn in while being outside. Report
This is so true. I stopped at the park a few months ago and got on the swings with my kids, and focused on using my core to propel me...I could feel my muscles later that evening, and knew they'd been worked.
If you are looking for additional workout tips, visit This man has some non-traditional views on exercise that are very interesting. Report