Being abroad makes you reflect on how you look at many different aspects of the world, as well as the community surrounding you. Some of the more classic examples are, of course, food, music or religious traditions—but another thing that I found my attention drawn to was sports.
Obviously, every country and in some cases, every region of a country, has a different perspective on sports and what specific sports are important. It’s not just the differences that are important, though.
One of the greatest things I have noticed throughout my time here in Chile is that sports can really be for anyone, it just depends on how you think about and define “sports.”
When I first arrived in Chile, I learned a lot about their national sports and what sports are popular here, including soccer (football), tennis and the Chilean rodeo, all of which have a fairly large fan base.
When you think about sports in the U.S, there are a number of sports that have significant fan bases. When trying to get involved in sports, a typical first step there is to watch the sport you want to learn more about, whatever it is. What I have discovered here is that folks can be so much more involved in sports than just watching them.
In a previous column, I discussed the athletic nature of Santiago in general, including the running paths and the workout equipment on the paths and at parks, but it goes further than that. Being athletic is not limited to living in a city or using the workout equipment at the parks. It doesn’t mean that you have to go running everyday for an hour, or play on a sports team that practices twice a week and plays games every weekend.
This past weekend I went to a smaller town called San Pedro de Atacama. This town is famous because of the Atacama desert, but it still has that “sleepy town feel.” As I was there, I noticed a number of companies offering bike tours.
Bike tours are not uncommon; they exist in many tourist destinations and big cities, offered as an alternative to taking a more traditional walking or bus tour. These are the perfect example of how being athletic doesn’t have to be complicated. Opting to do a bike tour is a more active way of seeing a destination. Similar to biking to work, it is a way of exercise that serves another purpose.
Recently, there seem to be more and more campaigns, such as Play 60, to get school-aged children in the U.S. to be more active. But there are so many opportunities for everyone, children and adults, to be more active in small ways.
Living an active lifestyle doesn’t have to include going to the gym and working out for an hour, it can consist of any number of simple, small, more active decisions. It could mean running around and playing fetch with your dog in the backyard for 15 minutes. It could mean riding your bike or walking the five minute drive to work twice a week. It could mean joining a sports team in your area that plays one game every other week. Being active doesn’t have to take a lot of time out of your life, or include a routine that you hate.
It wasn’t until I saw all the ways that people in the city find to live active lives without having to dedicate a significant time to it that I noticed how easy it was for people to be active. In my host family, at least twice a week, my host dad will bike to pick up and drop off my host sister at school. They use a two person bike so that if she gets too tired she doesn’t have to pedal too much, but things as simple as this keep both of them active and exercising without adding another thing that they have to make time for.
Although these specific examples may not be accessible to everyone, there are various ways that people can live more active lifestyles without changing their whole life or being forced to do things that they hate.