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Kid’s Play That Doubles as Adult Exercise

By Catherine Roberts

Watching kids constantly moving, running around from game to game, can be a little tiring. How do they have so much energy and have so much fun being out of breath? One of the reasons is because of how fun their activities are. They don’t mind being out of breath and working their muscles and lungs hard when they’re playing because it’s fun!

As an adult, you may be stuck in an exercise rut because you’re bored with your current routine, don’t have the motivation to exercise, or you’re too tired to bother. But exercising regularly is vital to overall health and preventing serious diseases as you age.

Luckily, there’s a solution—add some of these kids activities that double as adult exercise to your workout routine, or simply join in with your kids when they play.

Hula Hoop

Oh, the hula hoop. You probably have fond memories of hula hooping for what seems like hours, seeing who could go for the longest. The hula hoop is one of the cheapest toys for your kids that can double as adult exercise. Don’t be surprised if you completely and utterly fail the first time you try it—you may remember it being easy and it may look easy, but it’s quite the challenge to pick it back up.

Stick to it though because hula hooping can provide a great cardiovascular workout and engage your core muscles. This exercise focuses on the deep core muscles (the abdominals and lower back), which means it will help trim fat off your waist and keep your heart healthy.


You might remember making hopscotches that ran the length of your street. As you got older, you probably made it more challenging – more combinations of hopping on one foot, extending your legs far out when you need to put two feet down, and so on. As an adult, doing hopscotch can be a fun and effective workout.

Hopscotch can work your heart, providing much-needed cardiovascular exercise, as well as help with your stability and balance. If you think you’ll feel a little embarrassed making your own hopscotch—especially if you don’t have kids – you don’t need the chalk to guide you. You can pretend you’re going through a hopscotch by alternating steps and jumps as you go.

Jump Rope

Skipping is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise that adults can benefit from adding to their workout. This is another kids activity you probably remember as being easy, but it can take a while to build up the endurance to jump rope for a long period of time. Once you get to the point that you’re able to jump rope for 5-10 minutes, try challenging yourself by doing a skipping routine.

A vigorous jump rope routine can involve moving the rope really fast so that it goes around twice before your feet land back on the ground. Or make it part of an interval training course, and skip really fast when you’re at this station.

Jumping Jacks

Remember when you were a kid and you’d randomly do things like jumping jacks while in the middle of play time? It seems as kids we don’t think about getting tired and just do whatever we feel like. As we get older, anything that works your muscles or heart is considered exercise, and if you don’t have the natural motivation some fitness gurus do, it can be hard to convince yourself to exercise.

However, don’t let this stop you from working out. Jumping jacks are often used in circuit training or boot camp, and are an ideal kids activity that doubles as adult exercise. You’ll strengthen major muscle groups, burn fat faster, and improve your cardiovascular health.

Obstacle Course

Kids love obstacle courses—both creating the course and going through it again and again. Using whatever they can find in their surroundings, they jump over couches and crawl under tables—and it’s a race to the finish! Obstacle courses provide a total body workout, so it’s no wonder this style of race is such the rage these days.

From zombie runs to tough mudder (military-style obstacles), obstacle courses test your strength and endurance, as well as your mental health. It takes drive and determination to push your body to the limits. Put simply, obstacles courses are exhausting. These races are quite trendy and taking part in one will improve and test all aspects of your health.


As an adult, you might stare longingly at a trampoline as your kids laugh and jump. But what’s stopping you from joining in? Whether your have access to a big, outdoor trampoline or a small one you can use inside, jumping on a trampoline is quite the workout. You’ll work your heart, improve your endurance, and build some pretty enviable calve muscles.

Try jumping in different ways, like alternating feet so you’re using only one foot at a time to jump, then lift your knees high when using two feet. Or add in some arm movements and twists to increase the challenge and use more muscles. This kids activity is fun and the perfect adult exercise.

Swimming Underwater

Children can be fearless. They’ll try just about anything, and push themselves while they do it. Oftentimes kids don’t realize they’re testing and strengthening their body—they do it for fun and sometimes for competition. When swimming, a common game for kids is to hold their breath underwater to see who can do it for the longest.

However, the real challenge is seeing who can swim the farthest underwater. Or they use special numbered pool toys that sink to the bottom of the pool, and the person who collects the most total points wins. This is a great exercise, so get diving! Just make sure you’re safe and don’t push yourself too far when holding your breath.

Dash Races

Schools typically have track and field days where kids compete doing a number of different activities, from high jumps and long jumps, to 50-meter dashes and relay races. Many of these activities could double as exercise for adults, and one of the best to include in your workout is dashes—short but fast bursts of running.

Kids do this all the time outside of school too, when they chase each other, race to get outside for play time, and so on. Incorporate 30-second sprints into your workout (about 5-10 with 2 or 3 minutes of rest between) and reap the benefits of burning fat, gaining muscle mass, and improved endurance and cardiovascular health.

Matthew Jacques /

Dance Party

Have you ever seen a group of kids just break out into dance when a song comes on? It’s a common occurrence that gets the kids moving – and giggling! So what’s stopping you from breaking out into a dance party as an adult? Dancing is an extremely good form of exercise.

On top of the way dancing gets your blood pumping and works your heart, dancing freestyle can engage tons of muscles, way more than a lot of other cardiovascular workouts. So the next time your favorite song comes on, don’t be afraid to turn the music up and let loose. You’ll get a good workout and probably feel a little giddy and free afterwards.

Wheelbarrow Races

Every family event is made better from some friendly yard games. Wheelbarrow races, crab-walking, and other family-friendly kid games can give adults quite the workout. For wheelbarrow races, you’ll feel the burn whether you’re the wheelbarrow or the person pushing the wheelbarrow.

It takes teams of 2 to do wheelbarrow racing. One teammate gets on their hands and knees, while the other stands behind them and grabs their legs. Locking their partners legs in place at their sides, the wheelbarrow moves their hands to ‘walk’ while their partner runs behind them. This is a fun kids game for family get-togethers that doubles as exercise for adults.

Catherine Roberts


Catherine is our go-to writer for women’s health news, diet trends and more. She’s dedicated to providing Activebeat readers with the information they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle every day.

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