For many people the word “exercise” conjures up images of spending hours at the gym sweating, endless repetitions of crunches, sharing exercise equipment with the other sweaty people before you, and just all-round general discomfort.
Well guess what? It doesn’t have to be like that.
It might be hard for you to fathom but crunches are NOT an essential exercise! Yep, you read that right.. a qualified Personal Trainer actually saying that crunches aren’t required!
All we need is our body and the natural world outside of gyms in order to be fit and healthy. What’s even better is that nature is completely free – there’s no joining fee or fortnightly direct debits!
Since you’re probably totally new to this way of thinking and moving, here are some suggestions of fun and functional movements you can perform outdoors…
1. The Lava Game
This is an oldie but a goodie! For those who don’t remember how to play this, the rules are simple…
The ground is lava! By using equipment and items nearby you have to navigate from point A to point B without touching the ground or you’ll simply burn up.
This game is great to play in a place where you have obstacles such as a playground or rocks to play on. The main benefit of this exercise besides needing to think is ‘mindful movement’ for the whole body.
What do I mean by mindful movement? Mindful movement is movement that requires you to think about it. Walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike for example is not mindful movement.
You also get the benefit of explosive movement as you jump from obstacle to obstacle, as well as flexibility as you duck, weave and move.
This game requires more than one person to participate, although I must admit it would look pretty funny trying to play this alone!
Once you have more than one person ready to play, start with 1 person being “it”. This person has to tag someone else in order to no longer become “it”. Then just keep going!
It’s a very simple concept but great cardiovascular interval training is a great workout. The reason for this is because you are constantly on the move. Sprints thrown in when someone tries to tag you adds to the overall benefit and fun!
3. Quadrapedal Movements
Do you want abs of steel but hate the thought of doing crunches? Then try some quadrupedal movements in your play time!
Crawling on all fours, monkey walks and ape walks will get every muscle in your body working hard as you transform back to our early evolutionary roots.
Start with crawling on hands and knees. Yes, babies do this, but give it a go, I bet you find it really awkward? Because you haven’t done it in a long time, yet it should be a basic human movement skill, all throughout life. Practice until you feel coordinated then move onto hands and feet…
This is much trickier and you’ll feel your abs and quite a few other muscles working hard. It’s a terrific movement to do.
4. Remove One Limb
Choose one of your limbs – a leg or an arm – and play around with moving through a variety of obstacles without the actual use of that limb. For example, place one arm behind your back and attempt to climb a ladder at the playground.
This is another mindful activity because it requires you to think about how to move without using a vital body part.
5. Partner Object Carry
Pick an object that both you and your partner are capable of carrying, such as a rock, a sandbag, a small child etc and set start and end points.
Work together to move your heavy object from point A to point B. Pass the object to each other while each person takes turns to move forward or ahead. This game works really well at a children’s playground or in and around a rocky creek.
This exercise utilizes strength, balance, coordination, flexibility and mindfulness to achieve an objective.
6. Chase the Waves
Next time you’re walking along the beach make a game of chasing the waves. It’s fun and incredibly effective!
As a wave heads back towards the ocean, sprint towards it as far as you dare. Then when it turns to come in again, sprint back so you don’t get wet. Repeat and after a few rounds you’ll see why it’s great for fitness!
If you’re keen and quick try do some push ups in between each wave! This adds a whole new element to the game.
So as you can see… playing is only limited by your imagination. There are so many fun movements you can create. The options are endless.
Here’s another gem… try adding some jumping and climbing!
Now that I’ve given you these 6 awesome ideas to stop exercising and start playing I’d love to hear some of your suggestions and experiences. Leave a comment below with ideas you have or games you’ve played and enjoyed.
If you’re feeling self-conscious, unsure, unconfident or would like other people to play with then feel free to join in on the free Primal Play Days we hold every couple of months at Point Cartwright – stay tuned for info on our Facebook page
One more thing… stop reading and go play!!
5 Things I am grateful for are:
1. The wonderful people I am meeting on my health journey
2. Truly loving what I do
3. Days off
4. Being the world’s best Uncle!
5. Constant opportunities to learn new things