Swinging for Fitness

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Those are the opening lines of a poem from one of the My Book House books that I loved when I was a little girl. It so vividly captures the simple joy of swinging, which was just the same in 1920 as in 1977 as in 2009. I still think that swinging in a swing is one of the pleasantest things to do!

It’s also great exercise! Pumping a swing up nice and high increases your heart rate and works your abdominal muscles and loosens your hamstrings. Swings are available free of charge at most playgrounds. If you have kids, you can exercise while they play.

Swinging was one of the ways I exercised after having a baby. I put him in a front-pack carrier, walked to the playground, and swung with him still in the carrier. He always looked very surprised by the motion but not upset. His extra weight increased the workout for my abs. At first I had to swing gently because my muscles were weak from having been stretched by pregnancy, but after a couple of weeks of stopping by the playground twice a week for a few minutes (it was winter) I began to feel stronger, and before he outgrew the front-pack I was able to swing him high into the sky!

I can’t recommend swinging with a baby unsecured on your lap because you need to hold the baby, but you also need both hands on the swing chains, so it doesn’t work too well. Instead, find a swing set with both baby swings and big swings, start the baby swinging, then get on your own swing. My now-four-year-old son is grudgingly accustomed to the fact that when he slows down and asks for more pushing, Mama will be sailing high into the blue sky saying, “Wheeeee!!” and will not get around to pushing him for a while. He ought to start learning to pump his own swing, I say! Still, I do push him and play “Come Here! Go Away!” in between my own bouts of swinging.

Swinging for fitness and fun works for me!

Note to disappointed readers who Googled “swinging” and thought this post was going to be about that other kind of swinging: Sorry. I bet there’s some way to burn calories and strengthen your abs while doing that, too, but I’ve got no advice for you. I hope that this article reminded you of more innocent pleasures, provided new inspiration for varying your exercise routine, and/or gave you something to pass around to your friends and snicker over–because hey, that’s traffic to my site, and maybe you’ll find something else useful here. If it’s any consolation, the double meaning of the word came to my mind as soon as I started planning to write this article, and I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a term other than “swinging” to convey what I mean, but there just isn’t one that isn’t a cumbersome multi-word phrase.

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