If you were born before the digital era of iPods, video games and 24-hour internet dependency, it’s more than likely your childhood was spent on healthy, active and fun fitness pursuits.


You might have spent time kicking a ball with your neighbours, building a makeshift cubby house for an afternoon tea party with your teddy bear companions or riding your bike to explore the haunted house a few streets away – indulging in the delight of kiddie pastimes that involved a bundle of energy and unbridled joy.

If you’re looking to inject a bit of fun, variety and the ‘I can do anything’ mentality you had as a child into your workout, here’s your go-to guide on your favourite childhood pastimes and how to rekindle your passion for them. We think you’ll fall in love with them all over again.


What it’s good for

Rollerskating is a childhood favourite and if you think you may be a little too grown up to lace up your skates, think again. Rollerskating provides an effective fat-burning workout and is said to burn the same amount of calories as jogging while minimising the impact on your joints.

Exercise physiologist Dale Ischia says rollerskating offers a low-impact workout that improves cardiovascular fitness. It’s also great for developing core stability and strength.

“Balance is also a benefit specific to rollerskating – having to stand on one leg during the gliding phase initiates all the leg and trunk stabilising muscles,” Ischia says.

Using your legs to push out to the side while performing the skating motion also actively trains the side rear muscles that help control the hip joints, making for an excellent lower-body workout.

Why you’ll love it

Lacing up your skates and heading out to the park alone while wearing your skating essentials – helmet, knee and elbow pads – can be a little daunting, so why not enjoy this activity with your friends and family?

“Skating with family members or friends is a great way to enjoy physical activity and the fresh air,” clinical psychologist Grant Brecht says.

He says you may feel an adrenaline rush when rollerskating, as activities such as these give us less control over our bodily movement and consequently involve a bit of risk-taking.

“In moderation, adrenaline is good for us – it gets you a little anxious, a bit spirited, alive and a bit joyous.”

Getting Started

Rollerskating is one of those activities your body doesn’t forget how to perform. However, to be extra cautious and prevent any chance of injury, start with rollerskates rather than inline skates. Lace up, put on your protective gear and start skating at your local park.

Bike Riding

What it’s good for

Your bike was probably your primary mode of transport around your local area when you were younger. While you might have outgrown it and opted for a glitzier mode of transport, consider hopping onto your bike again – it’s good for the environment and your body.

Cycling improves muscle tone, particularly in the legs, thighs and backside.

“It’s a fabulous cardiovascular exercise where you can vary the intensity to change the style of workout you desire,” Colley says.

As an example, you can go uphill to increase the intensity of your bike ride, which develops muscle endurance and tones the legs.

Ischia says cycling improves aerobic fitness, which has been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol, reducing the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.

“Regular aerobic exercise also reduces the risk of developing diabetes,” Colley says.

It’s also good for joint health.

“Moving the joints in a single plane movement, which occurs in cycling, is safe on the joints and stimulates the production of joint fluid to lubricate the joints, which reduces the incidence of arthritis,” Ischia says.

Why you’ll love it

If you use your bike as a form of transport, it’ll be hip pocket-friendly, reducing your petrol bill significantly.

On that note, cycling is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and also allows you to explore the great outdoors, providing a more enjoyable and intense workout than gym-bound spin classes on a stationary bike. And what better way to beat peak hour traffic?

Getting started

Don’t just wipe the dust off the bike you had as a teenager – make sure it is safe and appropriate for your height. Start by riding your bike to the local grocery store for small-load shopping trips and progress to road riding.

Team Sports

What it’s good for

Many of us have already farewelled those far-off school days when we regularly engaged in team sports. But with the many physical and psychological benefits of team sports, perhaps it’s time to revisit the group energy and sense of belonging playing for a team can offer.

“Team sports teach you social skills – how to be affiliative with others and how to have fun and connect with other people,” Brecht says.

PT Michelle Colley of Life Personal Training says team sports generally require running around, often in short sprint bursts, which is in itself a form of interval training.

“Interval training is one of the best ways to develop cardiovascular fitness and it also assists with weight maintenance or weight loss,” she says.

Team sports range from netball and volleyball to hockey and soccer, and depending on the sport, you’ll be able to target different muscle groups.

As an example, Colley says a game of netball includes short sprints, pauses on the court, as well as twisting and turning motions, which promote core strength and stability as well as overall body flexibility.

Why you’ll love it

Playing a team sport is a great way to make new friends or if you join a team with old buddies, it is a great way to strengthen and deepen existing friendships.

“If you have a preference for extroversion – where you get your energy from being around other people – participating in team sports is fantastic,” Brecht says.

“Team sports focus us on the ‘we’ and not the ‘me’ and there are lots of things that require us to work with others and have a sense of ‘we’ outside the ‘me’ in society, too.”

You’ll also be able to stay on track with your fitness goals through the support of your team members and you’ll get a number of workouts at a low cost.

But most of all it’s fun – “improving fitness is the by-product of all the fun you’ll have,” Brecht says.

Getting Started

Join a local club or get together a group of friends and create your own team.


What it’s good for

Whether you danced on a regular basis at a dance school or to the energetic beats of pre-noughties music, there’s no doubt you’ve experienced how enjoyable and energy-pumping dance can be. And there’s no reason to exclude this endorphin-boosting way of burning energy from your workout plan.

Dance provides a good cardio workout and is great for improving balance, flexibility, coordination, muscle tone and rhythm.

“Formal training in certain dance styles is fantastic for posture and core strength – not to mention toning the legs,” Ischia says.

Dance styles range from jazz and hip-hop to ballet and ballroom and depending on each style, you’ll work out different muscle groups.

Founding director of Australian Dance Vision Penny Lancaster says classical ballet applies a discipline to the fun of movement.

“Another important benefit is that it keeps students moving, thus reducing fat and their risk of obesity,” she says.

“Other forms of dance, particularly jazz and tap, also give the same benefits.”

Most beginner dance classes provide a low- to medium-impact workout, but as you progress to intermediate and advanced classes, you will be able to use dance for a high-impact workout.

“Even madly dancing around the lounge room is a great fat-burning workout,” Ischia says.

Why you’ll love it

There’s more to dance than its nostalgic appeal. Joining a dance class is a great way to make friends and can make for a fun night out.

Beginner classes provide a safe environment in which to perform all your unpolished, beginner moves and they are a great way to boost your confidence.

“Psychologists have noted that dance is good for depression by focusing the mind and allowing endorphins to flood the blood stream,” Lancaster says. “So start dancing now!” c

Getting Started

Beginner dance classes generally range from $10 to $15 at community colleges and public venues, while dancing at a studio may cost a little more. Gather your friends and get ready to shimmy and shake.