Get a top-to-toe workout without even realising it with playful summer activities.
When we were children, summer was dedicated to fun. Whether it was balmy evenings corralling the local kids into a game of rounders, or tracing out a garden hopscotch course, little did we know we were getting fit without effort.
The good news is it’s easy to recapture this sense of fun and give your whole body a tone up.
For best results, involve others: an American study found that those who exercised in a group had more fun – even more so when outdoors. Plus, recalling a positive exercise experience makes you more likely to workout again, according to another study.
So whether it’s playing games at a family picnic, throwing a Frisbee on the beach, or just having fun in the garden, there are lots of ways to recapture that school holidays spirit. Try our activities for long-term benefits and hosts of happy memories.
Frisbee – Fab for toning your arms
Running, catching and throwing are great ways to get your heart pumping, as well as giving your arms a workout, especially when you switch between forehand and backhand throws.
Want more toning? Add in 10 push-ups (either full or on your knees) every time you drop the disc.
For a more intense version, try a game of Ultimate Frisbee. This American game is a non-contact team sport that involves throwing discs to score points, and plenty of running around.
Find your local Ultimate Frisbee team at ukultimate.com
The Aerobie Sprint 10 Inch Flying Ring (£10, argos.co.uk) has a central hole meaning you can mix things up by trying to catch with your arms or feet as well as your hands.
Rounders – Boosts your heart rate
Interval training, i.e. stop-start bursts of intense movement, also known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), is great for cardiovascular health. You can burn around 300 calories an hour during a game of rounders, plus the variety – switching between batting, bowling and fielding – keeps your brain busy and makes the time whizz by.
Increase your burn by playing on the beach – running on sand burns roughly 1.6 times more calories than on a hard surface.
Find a local team at roundersengland.co.uk
Skipping – Best for a boosted metabolism
Want to burn up to 1,600 calories an hour? Make like a boxer and grab your skipping rope for serious fat burning. There are lots of different ways to mix it up (look on YouTube for more ideas and full workouts).
We like the challenge of forward and backward skipping (jump with both feet together, trying to land six inches ahead or behind the rope) and double jumping (trying to jump high enough that you can bring the rope around twice before you land! Don’t forget to keep your abs engaged throughout for a core workout.
Try the Gritin Skipping Rope (£6.99, amazon.co.uk), which has soft memory foam handles for easy use.
Roller skating – Ideal for sculpting your legs and bum
Skating causes 50 per cent less stress to joints than running but still works all your leg muscles and core, according to a study from the University of Massachusetts.
Burn up to 600 calories an hour and tone your bum, as your glutes do the heavy lifting. Once you’ve got the hang of basic movement, try lowering your body into more of a squat position to challenge your balance and fire up your bum muscles.
Try Fila Verve Women’s Quad Roller Skates (£29.99, decathlon.co.uk) that have a comfy foam lining. And don’t forget safety – the Oxelo Fit500 Skating Protectors (£12.99, decathlon.co.uk) have impact protection for any hard knocks.
Hopscotch – Brilliant for better balance
As well as a serious nostalgia trip, hopscotch actually has some real benefits in adulthood. For one thing, spending time standing or jumping on each individual leg is great for your balance. It helps to rectify muscle imbalances and makes you less likely to trip and fall in everyday life.
We all tend to have a stronger side of the body, and by jumping on alternate sides you ensure that all of your muscles are being worked evenly.
Plus, doing two minutes of hopping has also been proven to increase your bone density according to research at Loughborough University. This is thanks to the impact on your skeleton when you land on the ground.
Make things tougher by incorporating hopscotch into a full workout. Start with 10 single-leg lunges, 10 jumping jacks and 10 squats to get your heart rate up and engage your leg and core muscles.
Hula Hoop – Great for a trimmer waist
If you’re looking for an ab-toning exercise that’s more interesting than crunches, hula hooping could be for you. It burns around 165 calories per 30-minute session, and uses your abdominals and hips, while toning up your waist.
Just slip it up around your waist, and whip it (anti-clockwise for right-handers, clockwise for lefties) moving your midrift forward and backwards to propel the hoop. Push your stomach forwards when the hoop touches it, to find the rhythm.
For an extra challenge, try a weighted hoop. It’s is easier to spin, but really engages core muscles as they try to keep it up.
The Opti Weighted Hoop (£13.99, argos.co.uk) has a waved design to encourage engagement in your core muscles.