Ken Adams doesn’t let parenting get in the way of his workout. He says his three girls, who are 10, 7 and 3, make it easier than ever for him to exercise because it’s part of their playtime together.
“I love going out and jumping with my kids on the trampoline,” says Adams, 41, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and associate clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas. (He also serves as one of the team physicians for the U.S. Olympic cycling team.)
“If we jump 15 to 20 minutes five times a week, I’m having a hard workout, and they’re having a blast while we’re laughing and talking.”
Most healthy adults should get at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, with strength training exercises at least twice a week, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Adams says he exceeds those recommendations just by biking with the kids to school in the morning and later to the playground, where he’s usually the only parent not sitting on the bench, texting on a cellphone.
Speaking of cellphones, none of the girls has one, and the family does not own a television. Adams says they prefer to bond as a family over physical activities.
He says it makes a workout feel not like work but like fun.
“I kind of feel like the older I get, the younger I feel.
“I love hanging out with my kids and playing with them,” he says. “I don’t think about it in terms of reminding me of my childhood. I do it because it’s part of who I am and what I do.”
With the precaution that you should check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, particularly if you’ve been sedentary, Adams (with additional material from Chyette Sports Therapy in Manhattan Beach, Calif.) outlines some of the physical benefits you can get from playing like a kid:
Swings: Pumping your legs to swing high targets your quadriceps and hamstrings, which are at the front and back of your thighs. The harder you pump, the higher you swing and the more intense your workout becomes. If you push your child on the swing, you will work your triceps.
Slides: Climbing the steps is good for your quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks. Sliding down should lift your spirits, which boosts your energy. If you want to catch your child at the bottom, you can try lifting the child overhead for an upper-body workout, but only after bending at the knees to protect your back.
Monkey bars: Swinging from bar to bar works your upper body. Climbing up and down the bars exercises your arms and legs at the same time. Hanging from a bar stretches your whole body. If you can do a chin-up, that will strengthen your arms, back and shoulders.
Seesaw: This is a great strength-training workout. Every time you land, the impact helps keep your bones strong. Pushing off to go back up works your legs and buttocks.
Trampoline: Jumping provides a strong cardiovascular workout while building leg and core strength and improved balance and coordination.