Jamaicans are active, energetic people. We like to move it, move it. Exercise is actually part of many of our routines in ways that we are not even aware of. So here’s a list of five activities that most Jamaicans engage in daily that are actually excellent ways to get exercise, and which are already engrained in our culture. If you’ve been thinking about going to the gym, you might just get the motivation you need from the realisation that you are already getting some amount of work-out on your daily routine!
Yes. We are a country of runners. It’s one of the main forms of physical activity encouraged in this nation – from our children are old enough to understand the use of their little legs, we start teasing them with goodies, teaching them to walk, and then run to us. Then in school, from as early as kindergarten, we encourage them to be part of races for sports day – potato races, sack races, math races, tag relay … running is a seriously mammoth part of Jamaican culture, and one of the ways this nation stays active, even when we’re not conscious of it.
Well, a party is not really a party without dancing in Jamaica. Think of the latest trends in dancehall music. Most of what you’ll notice are series of choreographed movements, or steps popularised by the most esteemed entertainers. So Voicemail, for example, will tell us to “just dance and do what you feel like!” while Elephant Man will get everybody to “signal the plane” and “jiggy body”.
That’s right. We do this everyday. We are a running, walking nation. This is true especially in rural areas of Jamaica: we walk to the shop round the corner (which is actually several corners), to church down the road every Sunday, to visit the cousins who live on the other side of town, and to school and work every morning.
4. Playing sports
Many men incorporate sports into their weekly routine, not even necessarily as a form of exercise, but as a time to “hang” or “chill” with the boys. Most popular (we think) are Sunday sports – especially football and basketball. It’s a cultural habit for our men to go out and spend time with fellow men in an activity that actually gets them moving.
Everywhere you go in Jamaica, you see bicycles. Those who can’t drive, those who don’t want to drive, those who just need a quick way to get around … whatever the reasoning, there are plenty of people in this country who use bicycles daily. The health benefits are many, as cycling is one of the best ways to keep your body lithe and limber.