Take the "Work" Out of Workout! 5 Exercises That Channel Your Inner Kid

Remember how easy it was to stay active when you were a kid? Always running, skipping, jumping...Working out as an adult can be just as painless and carefree with these expert ideas

If exercise has become something you dread doing, it may be time to get more creative about moving! Channel your inner child and make fitness fun again.

Get moving

Here’s the thing -- exercise doesn’t always have to be taken so seriously. If, for example, all the info out there about the right running technique, proper shoes and mileage counters have you feeling intimidated or uninspired to actually start running, toss everything you’ve heard out the window and just go for it. Run with abandon like you did when you were a kid -- it may just help you burn more calories in the process!

“Running around flopping your arms like you are a bird or a fighter jet is a great cardio exercise that works your shoulders because you are holding them in the air and will definitely get that heart rate up,” says Rustin Steward, a personal trainer in New York City. And while it may look silly, the potential fitness benefits definitely aren’t. This type of ‘free running’ can burn off about 600-calories an hour -- even more than traditional running because you are working more muscles, says Steward.

And this doesn’t just apply to running either, Steward says. “One of the philosophies that I live by when it comes to exercise is simply do anything to move the body, because that's what exercise is,” he explains. So, run like a crazy person, kick a soccer ball around, or just bounce around the house to some of your favorite tunes -- it all counts as exercise (and it’s certainly more fun than the treadmill!).

Try something new

If you’ve lost your workout mojo, it could just be that you are bored with your current routine. Mix things up by visiting websites like Groupon or Livingsocial that offer plenty of local daily deals on new and exciting fitness programs in your area, suggests Christine Bullock, a certified fitness instructor and star of the 10 Minute Solution: Butt Lift DVD. It’s a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone (which can get boring) and try new forms of fitness, Bullock says. “After purchasing these deals I have fallen in love with sports like acrobatics, paddle boarding, and boxing! I look like a fool each time I start something new, but it really motivates me to keep going back and improving. Plus, it mixes up your workouts, which can increase your metabolism,” she explains.

Jump to it

Trampolines may be a kid favorite, but they offer lots of adult fitness benefits too! Bouncing (also known as rebounding in the fitness world), is an exercise that reduces your body fat, firms your arms, legs, thighs, abdomen and hips, while increasing your agility, strengthening your muscles, providing an aerobic effect for your heart and rejuvenating your body when it’s tired, says Liz Cort, a certified fitness expert and owner of Fitness Fusion of the Hudson Valley.

Don’t have one at home? Make a fun date with friends and head to a trampoline park near you (Sky Zone has locations across the US) and spend an hour or so bouncing around on their all-trampoline walled court.

If trampolines aren’t really your thing, a pair of Kangoo Jumps would work too. Often described as ‘moon shoes,’ Kangoos feature built-in spring-like bottoms that can help reduce joint impact during exercise up to 80 percent! They are perfect for all fitness levels and ages, and can be used indoors or taken outside, says Cort, who incorporates Kangoo rebounding into her classes and personal training sessions. Keep a lookout for Kangoo classes near you.

Whether or not you have Kangoos, you can expect to burn up to 450 calories an hour* while jumping, says Cort. An added bonus? All the laughing you’ll probably be doing is great for strengthening your abs!

Make it social

Sneak fitness into social time to not only build a better body, but strengthen friendships too. “When we finally do have time for friends, most people center their interactions around food and eating out,” says Michelle Dozois, owner of Breakthru Fitness and star of the new BodyFit360 DVD.

Instead, why not invite a friend to play tennis (or soccer, kickball or volleyball, etc) with you? Learning to play anything together is great for getting in shape, improving coordination and agility (which we lose as we get older) and connecting with others.

A 30-minute game of singles tennis burns off about 285 calories an hour and works the muscles in your entire body, Dozois says.

Turn it into a game

Kids can make almost anything into a game, so why not try it with your workout? Next time you need a little boost to get started with your strength training workout, try this entertaining “deck of cards” workout created by Lisa Kinder, a certified personal trainer and star of the 10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training DVD. You can burn up to 350 calories playing this game, she says.

To do: Grab a deck of cards. Each of the four suits represents a different exercise (see key below), and the number on the card represents how many reps you will do (for example, if your card is a 4 of diamonds, do 4 push ups). If it's a face card, assign it 10 reps (or less if needed, base this number on your current fitness level). After a 5-minute warm up of walking/jogging in place, draw a card and whatever suit is on it, perform the corresponding exercise. Continue as fast as you can until you get though half of the deck (beginners may need to start with a quarter of the deck, advanced exercisers may be able to complete all 52 cards) and try adding a few each week, suggests Kinder.

Below are Kinder’s recommended exercises for each suit (these can also be substituted for similar exercises if needed, as long as they target the same areas):

Hearts = Jumping Jacks (cardio)

Diamonds = push ups (upper body)

Clubs = plank (core)

Spades = squats (lower body)

*All calorie estimates are based on a 150-pound woman, and may vary depending on exact exertion level, height and weight.

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