Watch the Olympics With a New Eye: Find Your Next Fitness Activity
By Sara Butler
When I was a kid, I watched the Olympics in awe every four years. I mean, it’s really kind of amazing when you think about how hard these athletes work and how many hours they train to get a shot at a medal -- it’s inspiring. It’s the best of humanity coming together for the world to see.
If you find yourself being inspired by this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, harness it. Remember, you don’t have to train to beat Usain Bolt’s record or try a crazy flip like Simone Biles to take your Olympic inspiration to the next level. Here are some ways you can use sports from the Summer Olympics as inspiration for physical activity in your own life.
Archery is an Olympic sport that just about anyone can try. Most cities and towns have accessible archery ranges where you can go to channel your inner Robin Hood and go for your own version of the gold. Inspired by watching the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, actress Geena Davis took up archery in 1997 and finished 24th in a qualifier two years later for a berth on Team USA in advance of the 2000 Sydney Games.
I know what you’re thinking -- is archery really a sport that is good for you? Of course, it is!
Olympic archers may make it look easy, but the truth is that archery is good for you in a variety of ways, such as:
- Improving hand-eye coordination
- Improving focus
- Improving strength in your upper body
- Boosting your confidence
Best of all, archery can be a sport you do individually or with a team, so if you’re looking for a physical activity that is also social, archery is a good way to invest your time.
I hate to break it to you, but you will never be Michael Phelps. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get into some sort of water sport if it’s something you are interested in.
Water activities are really good for you. They’re cardiovascular exercises that are gentle on your joints because you’re nearly weightless in water. Activities in water are a great choice for anyone with physical challenges, such as injuries or limited mobility. Your local gym or aquatics center probably offers a water aerobics class -- and I guarantee it’s a lot more fun than you may think. Of course, heading to your local pool and simply swimming some laps or taking up aqua jogging is a great idea too.
Talk about precision, I would not want to be in the crosshairs of any Olympic shooter! However, I wouldn’t mind going out with friends and being in the crosshairs of a fun, physical activity like paintball!
Shooting activities like paintball or even laser tag also make healthy hobbies because they help to relieve stress, provide a full-body workout as you run and dodge to avoid being hit. They increase endurance, build confidence, and add variety to your routine. If you find yourself inspired by shooting sports in the Olympics, get some friends together and create squad goals of your own.
One of the most popular Olympic sports of the Summer Games, gymnasts always impress with their balance, coordination, and the ability to almost defy gravity. I know it’s a sport I always look forward to watching.
While you may never be as flexible or coordinated as these athletes, there are some ways you can incorporate gymnastics into your fitness routine. Take a page from their book and create a daily stretching routine you stick to in order to help increase your flexibility. That’ll help ward off injuries in your everyday activities.
You can also get a trampoline (which has been an Olympic sport) and do some workouts that are great for your overall health and wellness. Besides helping tension and stress melt away, jumping on the trampoline helps to improve your balance and coordination, increase your motor skills, and strengthen the muscles in your legs, core, and back. It’s a full-body workout that also happens to be a lot of fun. And you can pretend you’re winning your own gold medal, I won’t tell.
The above is just a small sampling. If you’re fulfilling your patriotic duty by sitting on the couch and binge-watching America’s best for two weeks, keep an open mind. Karate looks cool? Take a class! Think you can do rowing? Try out a rowing machine at a gym or sporting goods store to see if it’s for you. Cycling, badminton, softball … if you need to get active, watch the Olympics and if “I could do that” creeps into your thoughts, then maybe that’s an activity you should add to your fitness routine. Any activity is a good activity when it comes to your health.
One of the things I admire most about the athletes in the Olympics is their drive, determination, and perseverance. But those aren’t qualities only reserved for Olympians -- you have them too. Don’t be afraid to pursue a new activity you think you may enjoy after taking in this year’s Tokyo Games. It could change your life for the better!
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