As much fun as it is to watch superstars in action, you don’t have to be a pro athlete to get some easy exercise, and have tons of fun, by playing the six easy sports and games listed here. None of them cost much, after all, and none of them require you to chuck a pigskin while riding a unicycle or do any of the other zany stuff in the strange-but-true sports we included just to make you LOL. Wondering how to make exercise easy? Here’s the scoop:
Fun and easy: Bowling
Hurling balls at five or 10 pins is awesome high-fiving fun, doesn’t cost much, and offers a surprisingly solid workout. Depending on the size of your balls — insert joke here — bowling can burn more than 200 calories per hour. It can also build dozens of muscles, as well as improve your balance and hand-eye coordination. And if it involves a beer with buddies and a sweet satin jacket, all the better!
Strange but true: Wife Carrying
Finland hosts the annual Wife Carrying World Championships, in which male competitors carry female teammates across an obstacle course. (Insert ball-and-chain joke here.) The prize for the fastest time: the wife’s weight in beer!
Fun and easy: Road hockey
If you have a driveway or live in a cul-de-sac, or if there’s a school yard or park nearby, you’re a few hockey sticks and a tennis ball away from doing your best Gretzky impression with a few buddies. Playing with your kids, meanwhile, teaches them new skills that can be super-rewarding for everyone involved. After all, you might just end up with the next Sydney Crosby or Hayley Wickenheiser! Yup, there sure are a lot of easy ways to get active with your family.
Strange but true: Octopush
Also known as underwater hockey, the snorkel-wearing players of this sport use miniature sticks to guide pucks into goals at the bottom of swimming pools. Octopush is actually pretty big in Canada, which has hosted the Underwater Hockey World Championship four times, more than any other country. Sing it with us: “H-2-Ohhh Canada…”
Fun and easy: Horseshoes
Whether you find four horseshoes at a yard sale or pick up a set for a few bucks at a sporting goods store, this classic game can be played in just about any uncrowded outdoor space. Jam a stake in the ground, take 12 steps in any direction, affix stake No. 2, and you’re ready to roll with teams of two or four. As well as walking back and forth, which is solid easy exercise, hucking ‘shoes can build muscles and boost flexibility, balance and hand-eye coordination. Who can resist the sound of a “ringer,” which happens when a horseshoe hits and hugs the stake? Fist-bumps all round!
Strange but true: Unicycle Football
Invented and played in San Marcos, Texas, this bizarre sport is just like regular flag football…except that it’s played on unicycles. While it may not appeal to non-unicyclists, at least the team names are awesome: The Rolling Blackouts, The Unicychos, Hell on Wheels, you get the idea…
You shoot, you score!
The exercise you get from playing any sport or game is actually more important to your happiness than the size of your bank account. Recent research reveals that while people who exercise regularly tend to feel unhappy for an average of 35 days a year, non-active participants feel that way for 53 days. It has also been found that certain social sports, like the ones listed above, can have a positive effect on your mental health.
So pick up a bowling ball, a hockey stick, or even a willing spouse, and get out there!
Is there a sport or game you’ve learned to love? Go ahead and share your sporty discoveries in the comments below!
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader’s Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam’s website for more details on his award winning work.