By Vanessa Voltolina
For many people, the phrase “no pain, no gain” rings true when it comes to fitness. No, we’re not talking about physical pain. (We hope not, anyway.) We're talking about boredom. Really, how exciting is it to do 30 minutes on a treadmill or elliptical? Yes, it gets the job done, but it’s also kind of monotonous and lackluster -- and maybe that’s part of the reason why four out of five Americans don’t use their gym memberships.
Remember when exercise used to be fun? Yep, our 9-year-old selves had it right when it came to recess. That 30- to 60-minute session of bliss in the middle of the school day helped us stay physically healthy and blow off pent-up energy, too. (Recess time has also been shown to improve memory, increase focus and enhance conflict resolution abilities in kids. Just sayin’.) There also seems to be a connection between our level of happiness and the amount of time we're outdoors...
So, gather up your friends, channel your inner kid and feel the burn with these schoolyard-inspired workouts. (Unless otherwise noted, all calorie-burn estimates are based on 30 minutes of exercise for a 160-pound person.)
Break out the chalk and create a hopscotch board on the pavement (or, see if there’s a prepainted one at a local playground). This heart-pumping workout can burn between five and 15 calories per minute, depending upon your weight and hopping vigor.
This full-body workout is capable of burning around 500 calories per hour and involves moving your hips and engaging your quads. Just one modification from the kids’ version: Invest in a weighted hoop, not a light plastic one, to reap all of the exercise benefits.
Jumping Rope And/Or Doing Jumping Jacks
Jumping rope is an oldie but a goodie -- all you need is your trusty jump rope, a bit of space and a pair of sneakers (and a good sports bra, if you're female). After just 30 minutes, you'll have torched up to 430 calories! No jump rope? No problem. Get a fun, breathless workout by performing jumping jacks in 10-minute increments throughout the day. (A half-hour bout of vigorous jumping can blast 280 calories.)
Remember playing this game in grade school? Same rules apply when you're an adult -- but this time, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the (238) calories you burn. To find a kickball team in your area, check out Kickball.com.
Most of us know the drill: Grab the first bar with both hands, then alternate left and right hands, grabbing the bar in front of you each time so you move forward. Completing six mini-sets of 45-second climbs, with brief rests in between, can burn between 250 and 350 calories.
Pump those legs like you mean it! Engage in a half-hour session of this classic schoolyard activity, and you'll burn around 100 calories.
Be on the hunt for this game at your local playground. If you can find a tetherball post, you'll get a pretty awesome arm-toning session, just you against the ball. This sport can burn upwards of 130 calories for a 150-pound person.
Get some friendly competition going with the fam, or join a pickup game at your local park or high school. Go for the touchdowns time after time and torch around 292 calories.
Get a challenging disc-toss going and burn a whopping 300 calories -- all while having tons of fun.