Wild Workout

By MDC | January 1, 2023
From Xplor: January/February 2023

Wild animals are the world’s best athletes. They have to be strong, fast, and flexible to survive. If you’ve spent the holidays hibernating, maybe it’s time to unleash your inner beast. Get moving, get fit, and have fun with these animal-inspired exercises.

Hummingbird Hover

Hummingbirds flap their wings to hover so they can sip nectar from flowers. Flapping your arms in a similar fashion works muscles in your chest, shoulders, and arms.

Hold your arms straight out at your sides. Quickly rotate your arms, making little circles in the air with your hands. Flap as fast as you can for a full minute. Rest, then do circles in reverse for another minute.

Fitness Feat

A ruby-throated hummingbird’s wings normally flap about 50 times a second. But during high-speed maneuvers they can flap up to 200 times a second!

Downward Dog

When they wake from a nap, coyotes like a good stretch. You can warm up the muscles in your legs and arms with this pose.

Start on your hands and knees. Lift your knees and tuck your toes against the floor. Push your hips backward to straighten your arms and legs, so your body makes an upside-down “V.” Take 10 slow, deep breaths and then lower your knees back to a crawling position.

Fitness Feat

To escape danger or run down fleet-footed prey, coyotes can sprint short distances at a blistering 45 miles per hour. Now that’s doggone fast!

Bobcat Bend

Just like a house cat, bobcats stretch every chance they get. And maybe they’re on to something! Bending like Bob makes your back stronger and helps you chill out if you’re stressed.

Start on your hands and knees. As you slowly breathe in, lift your head, push your chest forward, and let your belly sink toward the floor. As you exhale, arch your back upward — like a happy cat — and let your head relax toward the floor. Repeat five times or until your stress melts away.

Fitness Feat

Although a bobcat is only about twice as big as a house cat, the wild feline can leap over 10 feet straight up!


Holy moly! It’s a roly-poly. When threatened, pill bugs curl into a ball. You can do the same to target the muscles in your belly.

Start in a sitting position with your arms held out to the sides, your legs bent at the knees, and your feet off the floor. Lean slightly backward, bring your knees to your chest, and wrap your arms around them. While balancing on your bottom, straighten out your legs and arms. Repeat 20 times without letting your feet touch the floor.

Fitness Feat

Like their lobster and shrimp cousins, roly-polies breathe with gills, which explains why they live under logs and in other damp places.


An inchworm has legs at both ends of its body but none in the middle. Scoot and scrunch like this wiggly caterpillar to work muscles all over your body.

Start by standing upright. Bend forward and place your hands on the ground. Keep your feet planted and slowly walk your hands away from your body until you’re in a pushup position. Keep your hands planted and slowly walk your feet forward. When your feet are close to your hands, stand up. Repeat 10 times.

Fitness Feat

To hide from predators, some inchworms anchor their back legs and extend their bodies at an angle to resemble a twig. Now that takes some core muscle strength!

Airborne Armadillo

Sproing! Nine-banded armadillos spring straight up when startled. Mimic this movement to get stronger, burn calories, and build endurance.

From a standing position, squat down and put your hands flat on the floor in front of your feet. Lock your arms and kick your legs backward. While keeping your back straight, bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Push up. Hop your feet forward to return to a squat. Jump! Repeat this series of movements 10 times or see how many you can do in a minute.

Fitness Feat

Armadillos can leap 4 feet into the air when frightened. This gives the armored animals a jump on hungry predators, but it doesn’t work so well for dodging cars.

Bear Crawl

Black bears lumber around to search for berries, acorns, and insects to eat. Crawling around like a bear is sure to make you hungry because you’ll use nearly every muscle in your body.

Start on your hands and knees. Lift your knees off of the ground, keep your back straight and your body low. Crawl forward by moving your left arm and right leg at the same time, then your right arm and left leg at the same time. Crawl for a full minute, rest, and repeat five times.

Fitness Feat

Though they look chunky, black bears can reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour and climb 100 feet up a tree in seconds.

Super Squirrel

To glide, a flying squirrel stretches out furry flaps of skin between its arms and legs. Pretend you’re a squirrelly skydiver to make your back and belly stronger.

Lie facedown with your legs straight and your arms stretched out in front of you. Slowly raise your arms and legs off of the floor. You should feel your back muscles get tight. Hold this position while you count to five. (Be sure to breathe!) Repeat 10 times.

Fitness Feat

With a lofty launch site and a strong tailwind, flying squirrels can glide nearly 200 feet — about as far as five school buses parked end-to-end.

Soaring Eagle

Eagles stretch out their wings to soar through the sky for hours. You can make the muscles in your belly, back, and arms sore (in a good way) with this exercise.

Lie on your right side with your legs extended. Tighten the muscles in your belly, back, and hips. Breathe out and push your body up so your knees, hips, and chest are off the ground and form a straight line. Lift your left arm up so your body forms a “T.” Bring your left arm down, wrap it around your body, and lift it up to form a “T” again. Do five soars, then flip over (so your left side starts on the floor) and do five more.

Fitness Feat

Bald eagles can fly up to 10,000 feet high and dive down at speeds of over 100 miles per hour.

Wood Duck Waddle

On land, wood ducks waddle to get from place to place. Try waddling for a while to make your legs stronger and burn up extra energy.

Crouch down into a squatting position and hold your arms in front of you for balance. Stay in a low squat as you take four steps forward and four steps backward. Keep your back straight and move only your legs. Repeat five times.

Fitness Feat

Newborn wood ducks may waddle for over a mile while following mom from their nest to water.

Bullfrog Hops

When startled, American bullfrogs squeak out high-pitched yelps and leap quickly to safety. Mimic their motion to make your legs stronger.

Start in a squat with your hands flat on the floor. Leap up and forward then land in a squat. Leap up and backward then land in a squat. Repeat 10 times.

Fitness Feat

An 8-inch-long bullfrog can leap over 7 feet in a single hop. If you could jump like that, you could easily leap the length of a school bus.

Lizard Lifts

Boy collared lizards do pushups to show off for girl lizards. You can do pushups — whether you’re a boy or a girl — to make your back, chest, and arms stronger.

Lie on your belly. Place your hands on the floor a little farther out than your shoulders. Place your toes flat on the floor. While keeping your back and legs straight, push up until your arms are extended. Lower yourself down until your upper arms are parallel to the ground, then push up again. Repeat 10 times or see how many you can do in a row. If this version is too uncomfortable, try balancing on your knees instead of your toes.

Fitness Feat

When a collared lizard needs to scurry in a hurry, it stands upright and runs on its hind legs. The rapid reptiles can reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour!


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This Issue's Staff

Artist - Alexis (AJ) Joyce
Photographer – Noppadol Paothong
Photographer – David Stonner
Designer – Marci Porter
Designer – Les Fortenberry
Art Director – Cliff White
Editor – Matt Seek
Subscriptions – Laura Scheuler
Magazine Manager – Stephanie Thurber