The Diet Detective: 4 Games to Get You in Shape

Hopscotch helps build balance and strength.

Remember when you were a kid and you spent the entire weekend outside playing? Well, those childhood games can actually help get and keep you in shape.


Benefits: According to Mieke Scripps, P.T., D.T., a physical therapist for the Miami City Ballet, hopscotch is great for balance and strength. Hopping works all the leg muscles. When on one leg, the core (or center muscles) will be challenged. Bending down to pick up stones while on one leg is also great for balance and gluteal strength.

In fact, hopping may improve "overall lower extremity mobility given the different movement planes (forward-back, sideways and rotational)," says Fabio Comana, M.A., M.S., an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise.

What You Need: Chalk or masking tape; a sidewalk, safe street and/or flat surface; a stone

How You Play: Using chalk or masking tape, draw a single box with the number one in it. Then draw two boxes side-by-side centered right above that box. Label these boxes two and three.

Next draw a single box, centered above the two and three boxes. Label it four. Continue with two more boxes labeled five and six, one centered above those labeled seven, and finally two more--eight and nine--with a semicircle or half-moon at the top.

You need two or more players. One person starts by tossing a stone into the first box. If you miss the box, you lose your turn. If the stone falls in the box, you get to go through the hopscotch course putting only one foot in each box.

This means you alternately hop on one foot and land on two feet side by side. Skip the box with the stone in it along the way. The idea is to go through the entire course without losing your balance.

After you get to the top, turn and head back down the course picking up the stone when you come to it. If you complete the course without falling, stepping on a line or missing one of the boxes, throw the stone to the next numbered box and repeat the process. If you don't complete the course, you must wait your turn and then start in the box where you ended your previous turn. Whoever completes the full course first wins.

How Many Calories You Burn: About 5.9 calories per minute and 175.8 calories per half-hour.

More: Getting in Shape in Record Time

Flying a Kite

Benefits: While it's not much of a cardio workout, kite flying offers "scapular stability on the side you are flying," according to Scripps. " It also builds core strength and balance to stabilize the kite in strong wind," says Scripps. But keep in mind that the "constant upward gaze might aggravate neck problems for some people," says H. James Phillips, P.T., Ph.D., School of Graduate Medical Education, Seton Hall University.

What You Need: A kite; wind; and wide open space

How You Play: According to David Gomberg of Gomberg Kites ( in Oregon, you should stand with your back to the wind and hold your kite up as high as you can. "Make sure the nose is pointing straight up, and then gently let it go," Gomberg says.

"If the breeze is strong enough, the kite will start to rise. Slowly let out a little flying line, and the kite will fly back. Then, before it reaches the ground, tighten your grip on the line and the kite will start to rise again. Repeat this until the kite gets up into steady winds."

More: Activities That Burn Calories

In lighter winds, have a friend hold your kite about 50 feet away and release it into the wind as you pull in on the line. The kite should shoot up into the sky. When you get a little height, let out more line. Then pull in again to gain altitude.

Buying a kite? There are many types. Each is designed to do something different in the sky. Gomberg recommends that beginners go with a simple design like a Delta Kite. "Look for a kite 5 to 7 feet wide and made of durable, lightweight materials. Expect to spend $20 to $30," he adds.

How Many Calories You Burn*: About 3.5 calories per minute and 105.5 calories per half-hour.

More: Family-Friendly Outdoor Activities

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