Remember when you used to run around the school playground, so wrapped up in a game that you never thought about the fact you were exercising at the same time?
While some people continue school sports into adult life, for example by joining a Sunday league football team, others are starting to rediscover the positive benefits of playground games.
School games sessions are run by organisations such as Rabble (https://joinrabble.com/), but they can also be a tool for personal trainers and fitness instructors to give their clients High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
What is HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training is a cardio workout that aims to bring positive results quickly through quick and intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods. It was the number one fitness trend in the 2018 Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends, an annual report created by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and based on a comprehensive survey of those working in fitness.
HIIT can help clients burn calories, reduce fat, build leaner muscles and improve circulation, resulting in a stronger body and a healthier heart.
Which playground games offer HIIT?
School games that involve high intensity exercise include individual activities such as hula hoop, skipping and hopscotch, all of which can help to burn fat.
Team games also feature strongly, with exercises such as running, jumping and throwing, for example:
- British bulldog
- Capture the flag
- Piggy in the middle
What sort of skills do these games develop?
HIIT school games can improve speed, strength and endurance, as well as working on co-ordination, agility and reaction times. In other words, a good all-round workout.
What happens in a Rabble session?
The immersive team games run by organisations such as Rabble are aimed at helping people to get fit while having fun. At Rabble, sessions are an hour long, with the rules clearly explained before the game starts. Sessions close with stretches and a cool down; there is also a social element to the organisation, with pub visits and other outings. One of the benefits of these games is that they are aimed at all levels of fitness and you don’t need to have played them before.
As Rabble says: “Each game disguises high intensity intervals within the rules, giving you an effective, all-body workout… Our sessions are remixed team games so every class is different and you forget you’re exercising.”
As with any HIIT session, those taking part should be dressed appropriately and inform the organisers of any prior injuries or health conditions.
Clients playing school games as part of a HIIT session with a qualified personal trainer or fitness instructor should be supervised to ensure that the exercises are appropriate to their level of fitness and experience.
School games can be a great way to experience High Intensity Interval Training without focusing on the fact that you are exercising while playing. They are also a good alternative for those who are bored of other kinds of exercise, such as jogging or circuit training.
However, because the speed and intensity of HIIT does carry some risk of injury, it’s important that the client is supervised by a trained fitness professional.