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How to use your own body to get fit!

“Fun” body-weight exercises such as lunges, side lunges, and squats

Body-weight exercises can be done in your backyard, the park, while you watch your kids play a sport, or even at the dog park as you wait for your dog to fetch his or her ball.

Sample exercises

Lunges — stationary or walking: Make sure both feet stay facing forward, chest out and core engaged. Use the bum muscle of the front leg to stand up. Or, do walking lunges. Do one lunge. As you stand up bring your back leg up and step it forwards into another lunge. To get fancy, lunge up a hill!

Side lunges: Start standing. Step your right leg out to the side and sit backwards into a squat. Your left leg stays straight with the right leg squatting. As you sit backwards make sure your sit bones widen. Chest out. Core engaged. Engage your right bum muscle to push yourself up to balancing on your left leg.

Squats: Start standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Sit backwards — like you are sitting into a chair. Think of your sit bones widening as you move your bum towards the ground. Watch your knees — don’t let them cave in. Keep them in line with your middle toes. To stand up, engage your core and bum. Keep your chest out.

There are a million variations to make squats more “fun.” Try holding low in the squat and pulsing, slow down the tempo (try 4 counts down and 4 counts up), and/or add a jump.

Put it all together: Kathleen-approved sample workout

  • Warm-up with a 5- to 10-minute walk or jog to a park.
  • Sprint one length of the park. Do walking lunges back. Repeat 4 to 10 times. Or, find a hill. Lunge up the hill. Jog down. Repeat 4 to 10 times.
  • Walk or jog for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Do 10 body-weight squats and 10 side lunges in each direction. Repeat twice.
  • Jog for an additional 10 minutes (optional).
  • Walk or jog home.

Use a park bench!

Sample exercises

Step-ups: Place your right foot on the bench. Make sure your heel is on the bench. Engage your core and your bum to stand up. Control on the way down.

Scapular push-ups: Start with your hands on the bench and feet on the ground. Engage your core. Make sure your body is in a straight line — don’t arch or round your lower back. Do 1 scapular retraction by pulling your shoulder blades together and “cracking a walnut” with your shoulder blades. Keep your arms straight. Then bring your shoulder blades back to their original position and do 1 push-up.

Mountain runs: Start in a plank position — hands on the bench and feet on the ground. Core engaged. Bum down. Don’t arch your back. Alternate “running” your knees in towards your chest.

Put it all together: Kathleen-approved sample workout

  • Warm-up with a 5- to 10-minute walk or jog to a park.
  • Start with a set of “11s” of jumping jacks and push-ups. Do 10 push-ups and 1 jumping jack. Then 9 push-ups and 2 jumping jacks. Continue to decrease the number of push-ups and increase the number of jumping jacks until you are doing 10 jumping jacks and 1 push-up.
  • Walk or jog for 10 minutes around the park.
  • Do your second set of 11s of step-ups and mountain runs. Do 10 step-ups (each leg) and 1 mountain run (each side). Then 9 step-ups and 2 mountain runs. Continue to decrease the step-ups and increase the mountain runs until you are doing 10 mountain runs and 1 step-up. Always do the repetitions on each leg.
  • Jog for an additional 10 minutes (optional).
  • Walk or jog home.

Use your body for cardio intervals

Tabata-style body-weight intervals: A Tabata interval is 4 minutes. You alternate 20 seconds of all-out work followed by 10 seconds of recovery 8 times. A fantastic element of Tabata sets is that they can be done anywhere, with whatever equipment you have. Have no equipment? Use your body. Have a treadmill, use that. Be creative!

Walking, jogging, or running: This one is as simple as it sounds. Lace up your shoes and go — just progress gradually. Jogging and running are hard on the body. Start with a 1-minute jog and 2-minute walk. Slowly increase the amount of time you jog or run.

Put it all together: Kathleen-approved sample workout

Warm-up with 10 minutes of walking, jogging, or running; a relaxed Tabata of side steps, high knees, or bum kicks; or gently jumping rope for 3 to 5 minutes.

Then do 4 Tabata sets. Alternate between a cardio Tabata and a strength Tabata. For the cardio try running, skipping, or body-weight exercises such as jumping jacks, burpees, or mountain runs. For the strength Tabata try bench push-ups, squats, or lunges.