How to Use Playground Time for Fitness Too

How to Use Playground Time for Fitness Too

Posted by Steve Stearns; July 30, 2014

As a parent, I know how challenging it can be to get anything done. Kids, especially little ones, need a lot of your attention. It can be really tough to make time for fitness considering all of the other things that go in to being a parent. To find time for exercise you need to get creative. One of my favorite ways to spend some quality time with my daughter and sneak in a little work out is to take her to the playground.The playground offers a lot of options for fitness.


Before exercising it’s important to warm up and get your blood flowing and a quick round of follow the leader can do the trick. While my six-year-old climbs this, slides down that, runs here and jumps there I follow. As any parent of a small child will tell you, chasing little ones is a fantastic cardio workout and it can be a lot of fun!


When you’re on the playground and it’s time for pull-ups focus on the monkey bars. A favorite routine is to do a pull-up on the first bar transfer to the next bar and perform another pull up. Once you’re at the end turn around and come back. If you’re not quite ready for full “monkey bar” pull-ups a nice modification is to start with inclined pull-ups. Many of the playgrounds we visit have an arrangement of bars in a half dome shape. By keeping your feet on the ground and leaning back you can perform incline pull-ups using this apparatus. If you look around your local playground you’ll find objects and designs you can use to perform either full or inclined pull ups. Using an inclined form helps you build your strength. Before you know it you’ll be working the monkey bars like a pro!

Leg Work

Take a turn on the teeter totter to warm up those leg muscles. The teeter totter is an excellent way to get in a little leg work and have some fun with your kids at same time. You can also perform air squats, lunges and other leg routines at the playground. If you really want to get crazy try some “Monty Python” silly walks with your kids. Get creative!


For triceps I like to use one of the many benches on the perimeter of the playground. With your feet out in front of you and your hands on the bench lower yourself down and then back up to perform a tricep dip. If you look around you’ll find various ways to incorporate the structures at the playground for toning your arms.

Step It Up and Other Bodyweight Options

While you’re at the bench use it as a step. Place your left foot on the bench pushoff with your right leg step up and raise your right knee. Return to the ground and perform the same step on the other side. This is a nice explosive exercise that helps strengthen and tone your legs and butt. The options for fitting in a workout at the playrground are wide open. You can perform planks, push-ups leg lifts and a variety of other bodyweight exercises. You’re only limited by your own imagination.

Have Fun

Don’t forget, it’s a PLAY ground so have fun too! Take a break from working out and be a pirate, fire fighter or whatever your little one is pretending to be today. Run, play, and laugh it’s all good for you!  So, next time you’re looking to sneak in a little exercise and some outdoor fun gather up the kids and head to the playground.

See you outside!


Steve Stearns is an avid outdoorsman and host of the Outside Health and Fitness podcast. He shares practical advice, resources and interviews experts from the world of fitness, nutrition and health. His goal is to help others discover new, fun and effective ways to be naturally fit, healthy and happy.