Nothing beats these 5 summer activities for toning, strengthening and leaning down your body while you play (and avoid the gym).

Summer is all about fun! Here in Canada we only get so many weeks of sunny, co-operative weather and – as any bored fitness club staff will tell you – this time of year is no one’s favourite season for hitting the gym.

So why not roll with your laid back self? Try to incorporate one of these fun and simple outdoor activities every day to keep you limber, trim and fit this summer.

There are tons of summer activities – like beach volleyball, ultimate frisbee, stand up paddling and golf – which can deliver tons of results along with fun, but I’ve selected the most family and mama-friendly activities you are probably already doing! Because there is nothing better than a workout you don’t even know you’re doing.


Ditch the sweaty old spinning studio and hit the road. Riding a bike for the first time in a while is like driving a car when you usually take transit… FREEDOM! You can get much further on your bike than on your feet, and in the city a bicycle often travels as quickly as a vehicle, especially during rush hour. A hot day that’s too oppressive for running or other sweaty pursuits feels perfectly breezy when you’re zooming around on your bike.

Bicycling strengthens and firms the muscles of the thighs, calves and hips, and is a great joint-friendly activity for those with joint pain or who are still recovering from pelvic floor dysfunction. Try an infant seat for your baby or a bike trailer that can accommodate multiple, and older, children. Bonus – carrying your little one ups the calorie burn and makes your quadriceps and hamstrings work even harder.

How much work is it?

In one hour of leisurely to moderate bicycling, a 150-lb woman will burn approximately 300-400 calories.


A power walk or jog is great but when the temperature is soaring, you might be inclined to move a little slower. That’s okay, mama! Whether pushing a stroller, carrying your little one on your back, or even carting around a few bags as you hit the farmers’ market, aimless strolling is a great way to stay active in the warm weather. Choose a destination and go – the sunshine & sights will distract you from the fact that you’re actually exercising.

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for any fitness level, and strengthens all of the lower body muscles. Want to work your core? Draw in your abdominal muscles and walk with proper posture to work your core as you swing your arms a bit more quickly. Choose a hilly path and/or wear your baby in an infant carrier to really get your heart rate up.

How much work is it?

In one hour of casual walking (about 3.2-3.5 mph), a 150-lb woman will burn approximately 250-300 calories.

Beach Play

Almost nothing beats a swim for full-body muscle toning and fat loss but – seriously now – how many minutes do you actually spend swimming when you head to the local pool or spend the afternoon at the beach? You’re more likely to spend time building sand castles, treading water, splashing around and the like: lots of big, slow movements with maybe the occasional splashing fight or chase down the beach to rescue your toddler from a flock of seagulls (the birds, not the band).

The trick to making the beach visit into a physical activity for you, the grown up, is to play with your kids! Take your little one to the beach and I’d be willing to bet she barely stays still for more than a second or two at a time. Follow her lead, search for shells, build castles and jump over waves to work your body and have lots of fun.

How much work is it?

In one hour of fun beach or pool play, a 150-lb woman will burn approximately 150-250 calories.


OK, does anybody inline skate anymore? It might not be as ubiquitous as it was in the 90s but there are some seriously awesome benefits from inline skating. Skating – on wheels or blades – is one of the best cardiovascular workouts to also tone and strengthen the thighs, butt, hips and core. PLUS, it is yet another fun form of exercise which you can actually do with your little one in a stroller.

Here is a comprehensive list of tips for “stroller blading” safely. In addition to the killer lower body toning, skating is also just a great adrenaline rush and a safe alternative to a 3-martini lunch when you’re looking for something exciting to spice up your afternoon.

How much work is it?

In one hour of something-less-than-speed-demon inline skating (approx 11 mph), a 150-lb woman will burn approximately 500 calories.

And, my personal favourite…


You may not inline skate or hit the beach every day, but I’d bet the farm you’re seeing that local playground at least 5 days out of 7 when the weather is fair. Am I right?

Playing actively with your kiddos at the playground is one of the simplest ways to incorporate activity into your own summer days. Climbing up the equipment works the upper body, a turn on the swings strengthens hips and core muscles, and splashing in the wading pool and throwing in a game of tag or soccer is great cardio.

Want to really feel the burn? You can try this simple park bench workout while you watch your little one dig in the sand. Or just lose yourself in the moment and experience the fun of the playground from your child’s point of view. Children’s play is natural interval training: go hard for a few moments, do something quiet; then, repeat a thousand times or until mommy makes you go home. Let your little one be your trainer.

How much work is it?

In one hour of active playground bonding, a 150-lb woman will burn approximately 200-350 calories.


Ready? Go forth & play!