Part 2: Don’t exercise to get fit – Do move, play, live, have fun!

Girl swinging - exercise
Image by Vika Strawberrika – Unsplash

A few weeks ago, I wrote Part 1 of this article. I thought it best not to pressurise the E-word slitherers1 with too many activity tips in one go. Let them try a few of the initial suggestions, hopefully, the bug would’ve bitten and by now, they’re climbing the stairs at a faster pace, throwing their frisbees while hula-hooping at the same time, enjoying their walks as much as their dogs do, and dancing with joy. I’m optimistic as I’m extremely familiar with the power of endorphins.

But, before boredom sets in, it’s time to add a few playful activities to your “no exercise” routine.

1  People who slither away as quickly as a threatened black mamba at the mere mention of the ‘E’ word: Exercise.

Dig out the skipping rope

Skipping rope - exercise
Image by Markus Spiske – Unsplash

Find your skipping rope and rekindle your childhood joy. Skipping has many benefits, not only will this activity increase your concentration and improve coordination but you will find yourself significantly fitter if you practise it regularly. Your heart will thank you. Some studies show that skipping increases cardiovascular health.

Don’t forget the fun factor and in no time your kids will most likely want to join in. Be careful not to get too excited and overdo it if you’re progressing from your couch to jumping rope. If you need a little encouragement and guidance, watch this video for a quick jump-rope tutorial. Once you’ve mastered the beginner’s phase, check out this video to make it a little more challenging.

Wash the car

People washing a car - exercise
Image by Emile Guillemot – Unsplash

Believe it or not, washing your car can be an effective workout. Who needs weights when carrying buckets of water is as efficient as a strength and conditioning workout – rather use a hosepipe if you have back problems or get a friend or partner to help you carry the buckets. Doing activities together also increases motivation. Tip: To avoid wasting water, park the car on a grass patch when rinsing it with a hosepipe – the lawn can soak up the excess water.

Cleaning a car involves a lot of stretching, squatting, brushing, and polishing. Voila, not only a clean car but a complete workout. Put on your favourite music and throw in a few dance moves while you’re at it. Splash the kids with water, get wet, include the dog (if it enjoys water), and have fun.

Remember to use bio-degradable products. Products containing harsh chemicals are harmful to plants, insects, birds, and the environment. Here is an all-purpose bio-degradable option or for a more extensive range of car-wash products, browse here.

Tend to the garden

Image by Anna Earl – Unsplash

Gardening is considered gentle aerobic exercise. If you have a large garden, you can incorporate speed walking from one side to the next as you carry bags of weeds from one end to the other. Digging, planting, pulling out stubborn roots, can all make for a good workout. Even if you have a small garden or a few pot plants on the balcony, gardening is said to improve the immune system. The fresh air, sunlight, playing in the soil, smelling the flowers, listening to the birdsong are all wholesome ways to destress and improve your mood.

For an added benefit, plant herbs and vegetables. Use chemical-free products on your edible plants, organic eating is much better for your health. Organic neem oil is an excellent option to deter those pesky bugs that get to your vegetable garden before you do. It also stops itching and soothes dry skin.


Yorkie falling asleep - rest activity
Image by Delilah Nosworthy – Yorkie pup dozing off to sleep

Yes, you read correctly. Sleep is vital to overall wellbeing. It builds the immune system and allows our body systems to reset. Sleep deprivation interferes with the hormones that control appetite and those who are well-rested are less hungry.

Sleep also helps the brain to consolidate memory which is crucial for absorbing new information. A well-rested person can focus better and, therefore, learn more efficiently.

Ultimately, we are happier when we are unfatigued. Our minds are sharper, we have more energy, and we get sick less often. Insomnia can lead to depression. Adequate, quality sleep makes us mentally, physically, and emotionally fit.

Why not get into the habit of setting a sleep routine. Select an appropriate bedtime to ensure that you get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Also, try to avoid screentime about 30 minutes before bedtime. Read a book or magazine before bedtime to help calm your brain before falling asleep. Drink something soothing, that is also caffeine- and sugar-free, like a warm cup of herbal tea or a turmeric/cinnamon latte. There are many additional health benefits to consuming turmeric and cinnamon. Having a suitable sleep routine trains your mind and body into healthier sleep patterns.

If you’re not convinced yet, here are a few more facts about the benefits of sleep.

Go shopping

Women dancing with shopping bags
Image by Harry Cunningham – Unsplash

This activity is for those serious E-word slitherers who prefer spending their time shopping to partaking in any form of workout.

Shopping can burn calories too. Park further away from the entrance so that you get more steps in. Even better, if your favourite shopping centre is within walking distance from your home or place of employment and in a safe enough neighbourhood, why not walk there. Carrying the shopping bags home is not only a cardiovascular exercise but adds some weight training too.

Jump on a trampoline

Trampoline jumping - activity
Image by Jasper Garratt – Unsplash

Not only will you burn many calories partaking in this activity but it is also a fantastic way to relax. It has a seriously high fun factor and it’s another one of those inclusive exercises where the whole family can have a joint workout, laugh, bond, and get fitter and healthier together. If your local sports outlet doesn’t offer much variety, click here to find a trampoline that suits your needs.

Learn a musical instrument

People drumming - exercise
Image by Mary Saxaroz – Unsplash

Playing music can be classed as a form of physical exercise. Of course, it depends on the type of instrument you’re playing.

Let’s take drumming. “Recent studies such as the Clem Burke Drumming Project, which was created by the Drummer of Blondie (known as the ‘Doctor of Rock’), have discovered that within a 90-minute showcase, a drummer’s heartrate will reach the same rate of an ‘average top-flight footballer.’ Burke’s heartrate reached over 150-beats per minute, at one point skyrocketing to190-beats per minute!”  Their study found that on average 600 calories an hour were burnt while drumming. To put it into perspective, that’s equivalent to 45 minutes of vigorous cycling, 78 minutes of leisurely swimming, or 10,000 steps at a walking pace.

If you’re not intrigued yet, read more about the physical benefits of drumming here and here. It might be time to pick out a drum set and get jamming at home alone or encourage the entire family to join in. If you’re not too keen on drumming, why not try playing the guitar? Playing the guitar can burn almost as many calories as weightlifting.

Organise a games evening

Mario Brothers cartoon - activity
Image by Claudio Luiz Castro – Unsplash

Organise a fun games night with friends and family members but don’t stick to board games where everyone is seated the entire evening. Create variety and include a few active games like charades, egg and spoon races, sack races, wheelbarrow races, tag games, beach ball or balloon games, or play active video console games.

A side-effect to these active games is laughter, which in itself has many health benefits too.

Go ride a bicycle

Riding a bike is an activity that’s generally enjoyed by most people. I don’t know about you, but when I see a bunch of kids riding their bikes together, I’m encouraged to hop onto my bike and join them. We have many young children living in our neighbourhood and we frequently spend time riding our bikes with them. The outcome is always positive – such a therapeutic note to end a busy day on.

If you haven’t ridden a bike since you were a kid, don’t worry, your muscles have memory and soon enough you’ll get the hang of it again. Start slowly and as you get stronger and fitter, try out different routes and take on some of the hills in your neighbourhood.

In my view, mountain bikes offer far more options, you can easily jump on and off pavements if a car comes too close for comfort. There are so many trails to explore in most areas and since this is a thriving sport, many trails have been custom-built to suit everyone’s skill, from basic green to super-advanced black routes. My recommendation: Only try the black routes if you’re an experienced rider. Don’t be tempted to show off in front of your friends, I’ve witnessed some terrible biking show-off fails in my lifetime. The main aim is to stay safe while having fun and improving your health without too much effort. Have a look at some of the great trails South Africa has to offer here. I do hope you’re enticed, it can be a lot of fun.


There’s no hard and fast way of exercising to stay healthy. Simply, choose activities you enjoy and make sure you’re moving, living, playing, and having fun!

Authored by Delilah Nosworthy

If you would like to read more of my articles click here.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only. No material contained herein is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment before undertaking a new health care or exercise regime, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


2 Responses

  1. To add to the take-away, “Choose the right person or group of people as well as choosing activities you enjoy and make sure you’re moving, living, playing, and having fun”. There is a lot to be said about competition and group motivation and competitiveness when it comes to getting us “off the couch”. We are a social bunch and should try to embrace this, especially when we are natural couch potatoes. There is no better motivator then the expectations of the group awaiting your involvement/input, whether it be exercising vigorously, doing household chores, or participating in events together.

    Thanks for the lovely article, Delilah. I’m keen to read the next one!

    1. Thanks for that input, Nic. Yes, you definitely make a good point. I know many people who exercise or partake in activities with a group of like-minded people. Knowing that someone is waiting for you is a great motivator. As long as it gets you off the couch, I say – find what motivates you and stick to it. Thanks for reading 🙂

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