Regular physical activity is an important piece of the healthy lifestyle puzzle. The benefits of exercise are endless, from aiding in weight loss and helping to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, to boosting mood and increasing energy levels. But you don’t need to own a lot of equipment or take fitness classes if that isn’t your thing. It can be as simple as getting outdoors for a power walk or backyard workout.
It’s recommended that adults get in 150 minutes of physical activity weekly, yet only 1 in 3 American adults meet this exercise recommendation. This may sound like a lot of exercise, but many fit people find it doable to spread out their physical activity throughout the week into 30-minute sweat sessions.
One fun and effective way to help you reach your recommended quota of physical activity is this total body childhood inspired backyard workout. Not only will it allow you to unleash your inner child by mimicking swinging, sliding, and climbing movements you routinely did playing as a kid, this 10-move workout routine will work all of the major muscles and get your heart pumping with effective plyometric moves.
Is Swinging Exercise?
Swinging is an activity that brings childhood memories back to many of us. If you’ve ever wondered, “Is swinging exercise?” the short answer is absolutely! Not only is swinging fun, nostalgic, and something you can enjoy with your children, it’s also beneficial to your body.
There are a number of health perks to hopping on your swing.
4 Benefits to Swinging
Vigorously swinging can be considered cardiovascular exercise, which increases your heart rate and burns calories. Regular cardio activity maximizes the amount of oxygen in the blood – which ultimately increases your aerobic capacity so that your body doesn’t tire out quickly with movement. Cardio activity has been shown to strengthen the heart and muscles, help control appetite, and reduce arthritis pain and joint stiffness, among other perks.
Swinging strengthens your core.
Getting the swing to move back and forth requires core strength. To get the most out of your swinging, make a point to activate those core muscles by sitting up straight and drawing the lower abdomen towards the spine.
Swinging is exercise that requires you to pump your legs, and this back and forth motion helps to build up strength in the leg muscles.
Swinging is a stress reliever.
Beyond the physical benefits, swinging is advantageous to overall well-being. Many people find that it calms anxiety and provides stress relief. Swinging also affords you a chance to spend time outdoors and get fresh air.
Our Childhood Inspired Backyard Workout
1. Swing V-Sits
- Seated on a sturdy swing seat while holding onto the chains, lift your legs off the ground and straighten them in front of you while hinging your upper body back.
- Bend your knees and draw them into your chest as you exhale and hinge your upper body forward, then return to your starting position in a controlled movement.
- Repeat these steps to complete 25 repetitions.
2. Skater Jumps
- Perform this cardio and strength-building exercise for 1 minute by beginning in a standing position. Shift your weight onto your left leg and bend your left knee to lower your hips a few inches as you raise your right foot off the ground.
- Push off with your left leg and hop to the other side, balancing on your right leg as you bend your knee.
- Do this exercise for 1 minute.
3. Mountain Climbers
Perform one of the following variations for 1 minute:
- Drop to the ground to do mountain climbers: Start with hands and feet on the ground in a plank, then bring your right knee towards your torso while keeping your left leg extended. In one smooth motion, switch your legs while keeping your upper body stagnant.
- Use the ladder or rock climbing wall on your outdoor swing set to maneuver up and down as fast as you can climb.
- Use your swing to perform knee tucks: Start in a plank by placing your hands on the ground and feet in the swing seat, then bring your knees into the chest while keeping the upper body still.
4. Static Lunges
- Come into a split stance by placing your right foot forward as you stack your shoulders over your hips.
- Lengthen your stance so that you’re able to bend both knees to 90 degrees as you lift your back heel up, hold for a beat, then return to standing.
- Perform 25 reps, then switch sides.
Looking for a more advanced option?
Take it up a notch by performing Bulgarian Split Squats: Place the top of your back foot on the bottom area of your slide, swing seat, tire swing, a wooden step, your swing seat, or any other equipment that will elevate the leg to a similar height, then perform the lunge exercise with your weight and movement focused on the front leg.
Strengthen those glutes and back by performing this move:
- Lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended, keeping your neck in a neutral position.
- Simultaneously lift your arms and legs up towards the sky in a Superman-like position.
- Hold for a breath, then lower back to the ground. Perform 25 reps.
6. Slide Plank Knee Taps
- Begin in a forearm plank with feet hip-width apart and toes tucked, placed on the bottom edge of your slide. You can also use the bottom rung of your wooden ladder or the ground. Make sure your, toes tucked and elbows are directly under the shoulders as you engage the core.
- Slightly tilt the pelvis forward and gently bend both knees, grazing the ground for a moment, then straighten legs again to return to a forearm plank. Perform 25 reps.
7. Traveling Lunges
- This move makes your basic lunges more intense by traveling around as you alternate legs. Circle your swing set or forge a path around your backyard as you perform this exercise for 1 minute.
8. Single Leg Bridge Kicks
- Lie on your back and place your hands on the ground for stability.
- Bend the right leg and lift the left leg off the ground, foot flexed and leg straightened.
- Pressing your right heel into the floor, lift your pelvis up as you form a stiff bridge position, then slowly lower your body to the floor.
- Do 25 reps, then switch sides.
Looking for more of a challenge?
Begin by placing your right leg on the bottom edge of a slide. Elevating your leg will work those hamstrings even more!
9. Swing Squat Jumps
- Begin by standing shoulder-width apart, with your hands gripping the swing chains and arms straightened.
- Send your hips back while keeping your chest lifted to squat down until thighs are parallel to the ground (or as close as you can get).
- Hop your feet off the ground as you spring into the air, still holding onto the swing and keeping some tension, then land softly on the ground. Perform 25 reps.
10. Swing Oblique Twists
This backyard workout starts with a swing core move and ends with one as well!
- Seated in your swing, hinge back a bit as you grip the chains high with your arms straight. Extend your legs off the ground straight in front of your body.
- Seated straight with your core tight, slowly release your right hand from the swing chain and reach it back towards the ground as you twist to the right as much as you’re able to.
- Return your hand to the chain in a controlled movement, and repeat this exercise on the left side. Perform 20 reps, 10 on each side.
We hope that you give this childhood-inspired backyard workout a try! Research shows that you’re much more likely to stick with a workout regimen if you actually enjoy doing it, so we encourage you to play some energizing music to get moving and invite the kids in on the fun.
And since you’re likely itching for more time outdoors, check out five free spring activities for the whole family.