fitness

5 childhood games that make a seriously good (and fun) workout.

Image: iStock.

Some of the things we did as kids probably weren’t so great for our bodies. Remember those intense sugar highs you endured after hitting the birthday party lolly table a little too hard? Woah.

When it came to physical activity, though, we often got it right. When we weren’t playing Tip, Bull Rush and those other sprint-heavy playground games, we were trying to bounce our mates off a backyard trampoline (oh, the days before they came with nets…). The best part? We never viewed these activities as painful slogs. They were fun, and the fitness benefits were merely incidental.

RELATED: 8 ridiculously fun ways to work out. This is as non-exercisey as exercise gets.

While the passing of time means you have adult responsibilities to contend with these days — ugh, tax — there’s no reason why the seven-year-old within can’t dictate the way you keep active.

“It sounds maybe a little bit ironic, but I think all of us need to hold on to that inner child,” says personal trainer Blake Worrall-Thompson. “As we get older we tend to take life a little bit too seriously. Some [workouts] really bring back the inner child and are fun and light-hearted and have good energy, which all of us could do with more of.”

Want some of those childlike vibes? Try one of these workouts:

1. Skipping

Did you ever participate in Jump Rope for Heart in your school days? It was aimed to raise funds and awareness of heart disease, but there's another very good reason why the Heart Foundation encourages skipping: it's a seriously effective way to keep your cardiovascular system (and the rest of your body) in shape.

What makes skipping even more appealing is the fact it costs next to nothing and you can do it almost anywhere — just ask Kate Hudson, who carries a rope in her handbag at all times. Added bonus: you don't need to be particularly sporty or coordinated to make it work.

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"Skipping plays a massive role in my programming, not just for women but for guys as well," Worrall-Thompson says. "It's so effective in terms of space as well. If it's wet outdoors or you haven't got much space, skipping's great."

You can pick up a skipping rope for as little as $2.40 (try this Target one, or this $4 one). Shops like Rebel Sport also carry a range of ropes. An upbeat playlist will help you maintain a good rhythm — try this one on for size.

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We reckon your inner child would approve of these super-fun gym shorts by Aussie brand Running Duds. (Post continues after gallery.)

2. Hula hooping

Remember doing this during P.E.? Those were the days.

Zooey Deschanel loves it. So do Beyoncé and US First Lady Michelle Obama. Those are three very good reasons to consider adding hula hooping to your fitness regimen, and we haven't even touched on the body benefits yet.

"It's great for coordination, core strength, and hip strength as well," Worrall-Thompson explains. "I know trainers who use it as part of their warm up, in terms of mobilising the hips and making sure the core's active before they do their workout."

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Like skipping, hula hooping can be done in the privacy of your own backyard, and you don't need any fancy gym gear apart from a hoop. Actress Liv Tyler has a particularly fun approach to hooping. "I put my favourite song on and stand outside and hula hoop in every direction until the song is over and I'm all out of breath," the actress has said.

Because you're a grownup now, you can't just use a kid-sized hoop — it won't be big or heavy enough. Hula Hoops Australia has a particularly fun range of adult hoops, with lots of bright colours and patterns to cheer the kid within. If it's been years since you picked up a hula hoop, it might take a bit of practise to get back in the swing of things. But once you do, you'll reap all the muscle-toning, calorie-burning benefits.

3. Trampolining

If you don't have fun doing this there's no helping you.

The humble trampoline is a Big Deal right now. There are trampolining centres and parks opening all over the country, offering cardio classes that are a lot more hardcore than you'd think (trust me on this — The Glow tried one last year). People aren't forking out $15 simply for the fun of bouncing around, though — Blake Worrall-Thompson says the gravity of trampolining does great things for your body.

"It helps drain the lymphatic system, it's one of the most effective ways to that. Not only is it great to bounce around, but it's really effective in terms of detoxifying the body and moving it properly. It's still a long way from being mainstream, but if you went to one of the world class, high-end trainers they'd use it as part of their warm-up."

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You don't need to go to a SkyZone to get the benefits of trampolining — if you have kids or young relatives with a backyard version, get on and bounce around with them. It's been reported that eight to 10 minutes of bounding on a trampoline is equivalent to 30 minutes on a treadmill. No guesses as to which activity is more enjoyable...

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Check out the SkyZone and Bounce Inc. websites to see if there's a trampoline centre near you.

4. Oz Tag and Touch Footy

Bring it on.

Just because you played Oz Tag or Touch Football back in high school doesn't mean you can't still do it now (ditto netball, soccer, hockey...). Adding friends to the equation is an easy way to make any form of exercise fun.

"The Oz Tag thing was quite big as kids, and that's a super effective team sport a lot of people have a lot of fun with," Blake Worrall-Thompson says.

RELATED: 11 ways playing netball prepares you for life and makes you a better human.

You don't even need to sign up to an official club — organising a game with some friends in a nearby park is a cost-free alternative. Worrall-Thompson recommends a game of touch footy at the beach, for the added fun of sand. "If you throw the element of sand into any sport or exercise, it makes it a lot harder," he says.

5. 'Play'

When was the last time you did this?

'Play' is a concept many personal trainers incorporate in their programs, to make even the most simple exercises a little more challenging and enjoyable. Every trainer has a different approach, but the basic idea is to make workouts more like a game.

“Having a great experience while you’re training can often come down to making a game of it. Why do a boring set of lunges when you can tap a balloon to a partner and incidentally lunge as you reach towards the balloon?” Luke D’Astoli, Functional Movement Personal Trainer at Acumotum, says. “Games change the focus from internal to external, and quite often you can push yourself harder when you’re not thinking about it.”

RELATED: The genius game that will stop TV from killing you

A trick Blake Worrall-Thompson uses is to bring a deck of cards into a workout, using them to dictate the series of exercises. "It's a great way to help to take the edge off the workout and push people hard, but make it fun."

"One of the things I speak about regularly is finding something that you like to do. For some people it may be a game of tennis, for some people it's stuff like this. It's so important to mix it up and find what works for you and what makes you happy," Worrall-Thompson says.

What was your favourite game as a kid? Do you still do it now?

Here are some more ideas for fun workouts: