My parents asked me the other day what I was doing for exercise in Rwanda since I didn’t have a gym. At the hotel in Kenya, there was a small exercise facility that was surprisingly well stocked with barbells, benches, Swiss balls, mats and aerobic equipment. Here in Rwanda, no such thing exists.
However, this is not a problem because the “land of a thousand hills” offers plenty in terms of exercise. To and from the hospital everyday, I walk (more accurately hike) over two hours, up and down, some very steep hills. By the time I get to the hospital or home, I am covered in sweat, sun burnt, dehydrated and out of breath. However I can’t complain because it’s great having a morning walk to wake me up, and I look forward to the walk home after sitting at a research desk all day.
Just because you don’t have access to a gym doesn’t mean you can’t workout. In fact, I believe that simply living active and moving your body every day is MUCH better than running on the treadmill for 30 minutes, but driving to and from work and sitting slumped over at your desk all day.
In addition to my daily commute, I set out a towel on the bedroom floor where I practice yoga and Pilates on a daily basis. On the weekends, I scour Pinterest for no equipment workouts (jumping jack, squats, mountain climbers etc), and use the benches at the local park for push-ups and triceps dips. None of these activities cost me a penny, don’t require any fancy equipment, and you can easily modify the intensity depending on how you are feeling.
Staying fit or being healthy doesn’t mean you have to become a gym rat. Wake up a little earlier and walk or bike to work instead of driving. Turn on your music and do some gentle yoga every morning before breakfast. Simple changes add up, and before you know it, you’ve gotten your 30-60 minutes of recommended daily physical activity taken care of!