7 Recess-Inspired Workouts That Burn 400 Calories or Less

Ask most kids what their favorite subject is, and they’ll probably say recess. Just because you’re a grown up, doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Recess-inspired workouts aren’t only a great way to reinvigorate a fitness routine, they’re also serious calorie burners. Just 30 minutes of these recess-style workouts burn 280–460 calories.* So treat yourself to some back-to-school workout gear, channel your inner kid and hit the playground, field or even the gym. Because who says a workout has to feel like work?


*Calorie burn based on a 150-pound, 30-year-old woman.

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Jump Rope: Jumping rope is killer cardio and it tones your calves and quads — plus, plyometrics are known to torch calories. Grab a rope and challenge yourself to see how long you can continuously jump. Feeling advanced? Switch it up with jumping jack or crisscross hops.

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Play Pickup: For a group-friendly recess activity, turn a pickup game into a healthy happy hour alternative. Shooting hoops at half court pushes your heart rate while also working your shoulders, quads, glutes and calves. If basketball isn’t your thing, find a field for softball or soccer.

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Play Tag: Though you may not have realized it as a kid, all that running and chasing means one thing: cardio. Recruit your weekend running group and enlist them in this recess-inspired alternative to sprinting. A 30-minute game can torch serious calories and build endurance.

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Play Frisbee: Playing Frisbee never goes out of style. What may look casual, is actually a super-charged workout combining cardio, strength (leaping for that Frisbee is a killer jump squat) and agility. Join a league to make this recess-inspired workout part of your routine.

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Hit the Playground: A local park or school can be a fantastic (and free) alternative to the gym. Hit the monkey bars for pullup practice or hang by your knees for some ab-chiseling, upside-down hanging crunches; race to the top of the slide for some mountain-climber worthy cardio; work your quads with a swing session or grab a bench for incline pushups and triceps dips.

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Touch Football: If the return of football season has you feeling the team spirit, channel it into another recess favorite: touch football. This gentler version of the game means everyone in the family can play, so gather everybody together for fun cardio and family time.

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TRX: You probably never realized the excellent upper-body workout you got from hanging on the bars at recess. As an adult, working your shoulders, biceps, triceps and delts doesn’t have to be a drag. Try a TRX class, which channels the same upper-body suspension you’d get from monkeying around. Consider this your calorie-burning, grown-up jungle gym.


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