It’s now easier than ever to keep fit and healthy, thanks in part to the many government initiatives that promote healthy living. From online resources that provide tips on diet and exercise to nationwide fitness campaigns such as the National Steps Challenge™, there are many fun and exciting ways to embark on a healthy lifestyle and reap the benefits of physical activity without having to spend a ton of money.
Fun Family Fitness
Here are four low-cost yet fun ideas that you can try. Not only will they not burn a hole in your wallet, many of these physical activities can also involve your friends and family, making your get fit endeavour fun and inclusive!
Related: Is An Activity Tracker Necessary?
#1 — Build a Home Gym
“Wait a minute. That sounds expensive!” Well, it doesn’t have to be if you use and recycle many of the items lying around the house to construct your own homemade weight set for muscle-strengthening activity and exercise.
Using items such as plastic bottles, canned foods, rice bags and even old socks, you are not only building an easily accessible gym right in your own home but are also doing your part to save the planet by reducing waste!
Plastic water bottles filled with water and canned goods can be used as hand weights or dumbbells. An old basketball filled with sand can substitute a medicine ball. By filling old socks with beans, you can fashion your own wrist or ankle weights. Done with strength training and need some aerobic activity? Just get a jumping rope and skip away for a full body workout!
You can get ideas online on how to make homemade weights suitable for your fitness level.
The beauty of having your own home gym is that you don’t have to choose between watching TV and exercising. You can even create and run your very own fun fitness classes in your home gym. Check out “Burn Calories While Watching TV” for some great living room workout tips.
Related: First Aid for Every Home
#2 — Start Your Own Fitness Club
Gym memberships are not only expensive but travelling to and from the gym or a dance studio can also take away much of the precious time that could be better spent with your loved ones.
Why not start your own fitness club with family members and neighbours? It’s easy and you don’t need a permanent venue or expensive equipment to get started. Use the exercise equipment in the nearby fitness park, do some stair climbing or go for runs.
Begin with a simple timetable — perhaps with alternating weekly running and stair-climbing sessions. You can slowly ramp up the schedule as time goes by.
To up the fun factor, create a leaderboard where you can track records for various activities. Besides time records for distance runs and stair climbing, you can also come up with other fun awards that would help to motivate the less fit within the group. These could be Most Improved, Best Motivator, Oldest Active Member, Perfect Attendance, and so on.
Every few months, you could also come up with mini-tournaments. Consider creating your own obstacle race or running trail — perhaps up and down a block of flats, two rounds around the market, or 10 log lifts at the fitness park. You are only limited by your creativity when it comes to fun family activities. The best thing about starting your own fitness club is that by getting others involved, you motivate each other through company and a little friendly competition.
Finally, if you have trouble making up the numbers for a physical club in your neighbourhood, a virtual fitness club works almost as well. Using a simple online form or spreadsheet, you can create a leaderboard that tracks the progress towards fitness goals and results of your virtual club members. Award points for milestones such as completing a five or 10 km run, the longest consecutive number of days that you walk 10,000 steps daily, and so on. To get started quickly, you can also download fitness leaderboard apps such as Matchup where you can join existing challenges and create new ones!
#3 — Go Hiking on Heritage Trails
Here’s a great idea that fulfils several objectives: you can do this as a family bonding activity; you get to learn more about Singapore’s rich heritage, and you also get to keep fit in the process.
Over the past couple of years, DIY walking tours and heritage trails have grown in popularity around the world. Here in Singapore, both tourists and residents are embarking on heritage trails to learn more about the ‘true’ Singapore. Along the way, they are also discovering historical anecdotes that even locals might not know about.
Instead of spending your free time only in malls and visiting costly attractions, consider going on these free self-conducted walking trails. Simply put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes, download a trail map or an app (see below) into your smartphone, pack a water bottle and a light snack, and you’re good to go.
Walking trails can be based on themes such as World War II and Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, or centred around districts such as Ang Mo Kio, Jalan Besar and the Singapore River. Brisk walk to get your heart pumping.
Even if you’ve lived in one estate your entire life, you’re sure to discover a couple of new and interesting facts on your walks. Check out this great trails website by the National Heritage Board. Within the website, you will find downloadable apps and maps for the various trails.
Once you’ve completed all the trails, you can start creating and sharing your own trails online. Crowd Trails is a useful app by the National University of Singapore that contains many existing trails as well as lets you create new ones. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play.
Related: Hikes with Spellbinding Views
#4 — Relive the Good Ol’ Days
Take a break from your dance class or yoga session and relieve the good ol’ days. Whether you lived through the era of hopscotch and “zero point” or heard stories about these games from your elder siblings or parents, we’re certain that these old-school games will inject some spice into your fitness regime.
These games will help you to better appreciate the simple pleasures in life and realise that it really doesn’t cost much to have fun. Let’s focus on the more moderate and vigorous-intensity activities that will keep your heart rate going and bring you plenty of health benefits.
Related: Kacang Puteh, and Other Healthy Snacks to Pack
Health Can Be Fun With These Old-School Games
What you need: Chalk or masking tape, and a marker (stone or bean bag).
How to set up: Using chalk or masking tape, form the shape as seen in the picture. Make sure that each square is large enough for your foot to fit in.
Objective: The objective of the game is to get through the course, advancing your marker one square at a time, until the first player reaches the end of the course.
- Start off by throwing your marker into square one (advancing one square as you successfully complete each cycle).
- Hop with one foot in each square avoiding the lines and the squares which contain the marker.
- At squares 4 and 5, and 7 and 8, you may land on both feet, with each foot in one square, unless there’s a marker in either one of the squares.
- At squares 7 and 8, do and about hop and make your way back to the starting point, picking up your marker along the way.
- Every time your marker or your foot touches the line, you lose your turn and your marker position remains unchanged.
- The first person to complete the course at position 9 wins.
What you need: A packet of rubber bands
How to set up: Tie the rubber bands together until you form a long enough rope, approximately four metres long.
Objective: Form two teams with a minimum of two persons in each group. The first team to successfully jump over the rope (raised at each turn) wins a point. The team with the most points wins.
- Starting on the ground level, each member of the team shouts “zero point” as they cross the rubber band rope.
- When the whole team crosses the rope, all will shout “one point”.
- The rope is raised at each turn from floor to knee, to waist, to chest, to shoulder, to head, to finally above the head.
- You are not allowed to touch the rope at the first two levels, but from waist level onwards, you may touch the rope as you make your way over.
What you need: A chapteh
Objective: Using only your feet, keep the chapteh in the air for as long as you can, without letting it touch the ground.
Rules: This is one of the simplest of the old school games that you can play. Use your feet to kick the chapteh in the air, kicking again as it starts to fall to the ground, much like how a soccer player would juggle a soccer ball. The person who can keep the chapteh in the air for the longest duration wins.
Related: Caring for Your Feet
Monkey in the Middle
What you need: A ball, a frisbee, or any object that is safe to throw around.
Objective: You need a minimum of three persons to play. One person is nominated as the monkey for each round. The objective is to throw the object to the other members of the group, bypassing the monkey. The monkey’s objective is to try and hijack the object as it is being thrown. This game can be considered a pretty fun vigorous-intensity activity, especially for the monkey!
- Draw lots to pick the first monkey.
- The game begins with the object being tossed over and around the monkey, who is standing in the middle, to the other group members.
- The monkey’s objective is to try and snatch the object in mid-air or when the object is dropped on the ground.
- When the monkey finally manages to hijack the object, the person whom the object was being tossed to becomes the new monkey.
One important tip for these old school games is not to be rigid on the rules. Make it up as you go along, changing rules to keep the games fun. Be creative and most of all, have fun doing it. Exercise will then no longer seem like a chore.
Contributed By: Health Promotion Board (HPB)
Health Can be Fun and Free by Health Promotion Board, 28 June 2021, www.healthhub.sg.