Summertime workouts on playground

As summer continues, you might find yourself wondering how to fit in time for your training program. Entertaining and carpooling school-aged children for their summer schedules can take a bite out of even the most dedicated parent’s fitness routine. Here are a few ideas to keep you and your family on track this summer.

Head to the Park:

Strength training is one of the hardest components of fitness to work in when your house (and schedule) are full of young children. Fortunately, your average playground can double as a boot camp. Try using park benches for tricep dips and planks. You can work in bodyweight squats between pushing your children on the swings. Even functional training movements, such as bear crawls and crab walks can be fun to work in at the playground. For even more options, throw a ball and a resistance band into your bag before heading out and check out this greatist link for more ways to train at the park!


Ditch the Car:

If your kids are older, you may be able to bike together to nearby activities this summer. If you’re dropping them off and have time to spare, this can even give you time to work in a training ride while they finish their programs before riding home together. For smaller children, wagon rides, bike carriers, and strollers can all be ways to increase their mobility while giving you a workout at the same time.

Get your Game on:

Whether you’re pitching a Frisbee, tossing a beach ball, or rounding the bases in kickball, summer games are a great way to combine interval cardio training with functional movements and fun for the whole family. Like any training program, this works best if you stick to it, so try to get a schedule that makes this work for your family. You’ll soon find that your twice-weekly kickball sessions are a great way to pull the entire family outside this year.

Work in Short Sessions:

The convenience of your home fitness equipment means that you can put in a quick training (or kickball recovery) session while the kids are brushing their teeth or taking a nap (they do that occasionally, right?). Your workouts don’t need to be lengthy to be effective. Just ten minutes of raising your heart rate will give you cardiovascular benefits, and leave you with enough energy to spend the afternoon chasing your pre-schooler. For simple recovery, choose a low or no impact session on your elliptical machine or indoor cycle at an effort level of 65-70% of your maximum heart rate. For no-brainer, quality training, jump on your treadmill (or other preferred machines) and, following a brief 3-5 minute warm-up, increase your pace or incline every 45-60 seconds for whatever time you’ve got. You can also alternate periods of up to three minutes of high effort with 1-3 minutes of recovery before repeating your intense efforts. This high intensity, short volume training will boost your metabolism and cardiovascular fitness, without requiring a lot of time away from your family.

Whatever your plan this summer, remember that these months will go by quickly. Enjoy the long days and the time with your family. If a planned workout or outing doesn’t happen, embrace your day off rather than stressing about it and start again the next day. You’ll soon find that your summertime training program has led to a summer full of memories… and a fitter family this fall.



About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. 

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