1 Tug of war
What are the rules of tug of war? I am sure you will all be familiar with the first entry on our list of unusual sports. For a game of tug of war all you need is a long rope and two teams with eight people in each. A line is drawn in the ground with the rope positioned evenly over the top. The first team to pull the others over the line are the winners, though the game is usually completed on a best of three basis. During the game you cannot sit down and you cannot turn to face away from the opposing team.
Where can I do it? Here in the UK you are most likely to find a game of tug of war at your local summer show or a school sports day. If you want to get a bit more serious however, there are tug of war clubs in Scotland and in England too – there’s even a national championship!
Health benefits: Tug of war brings the most benefit to muscles in the arms because, as you can imagine, you need a quite a bit of strength there to pull the opposing team over the line. It also requires stamina to keep the game going and to come out on top. As tug of war is a team sport there is a social aspect to it as well.
What is the game shinty? Shinty is a Scottish sport that is often described as a mix between hockey, lacrosse, golf and ice hockey. The game is played on a large pitch in teams of 2-12. The aim is to hit a small ball into a net using a stick called a caman.
Where can I do it? As shinty is a Scottish sport you’ll be hard pushed to find it outside this country. That being said, if you were really keen to give this a go then it might be worth having a look on the internet for clubs near you as there are a few dotted around the rest of the UK and Ireland.
Health benefits: Shinty is a high impact sport and since balls can reach a high speed and tackles are permitted, it is definitely not for the faint hearted either! If you want to try it though, it can improve cardiovascular health as it gets your breathing and heart rate up. Also, as there is lots of running about in a game of shinty it can improve the muscle strength in the legs.
3 Stone skimming/skipping
How does stone skimming work? Stone skimming is really simple. Once you’re near a long stretch of water just pick up a flat, round stone, turn your arm onto your chest and then throw the stone out into the water. If you are competing against other people, then the person whose stone skims the surface of the water the most will be the winner. This activity doesn’t have to be completed with other people though; you could simply try to beat your own record!
Where can I do it? Beaches, lochs, large ponds and lakes are the best place to skim stones; just be careful not to get too close the water’s edge! For those who are particularly good at this activity there is even a world stone skimming championship which is held at Easdale Island (near Oban in Scotland) once a year.
Health benefits: Stone skimming is a great way to spend time outdoors which, as I mentioned in my blog ‘5 benefits of exercising outdoors’, has a lot to offer our overall health. Being outdoors exposes us to vitamin D for example, which aids the immune system, the bones and even muscle health.
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4 Munro bagging
What is munro bagging? In Scotland any mountain over 3000 feet is considered a monro. This includes Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, as well as Ben Lomond and Schiellion. Munroe bagging is simply when you reach the top of one of these munroes, though often the aim is to get to as many as possible!
Where can I do it? Scotland! You can find a list of the munros here, as well as their heights.
Health benefits: As well as getting you out into the great outdoors, climbing a monro will help to build up strength in the hamstrings and glutes. It’s also good for stamina and, when done regularly, can help with weight management. It is important to note though, that munro bagging is not something to jump into. Mountains can be dangerous and, particularly in Scotland, the weather can change dramatically in a very short space of time. If you do want to try this out I’d therefore recommend you join a hillwalking club and read up on how to prepare for the activity.
Is roller-skating a good workout? Roller skating is an excellent workout as it benefits various parts of the body including the arms and legs. A study by the University of Massachusetts found that roller-skating brings 50% less stress to the joints than running so it’s a good option if you want to stay fit bit don’t want to put your body under too much pressure.1 As the skates have four wheels it’s also a lot more stable than similar sports like ice skating.
Where can I do it? Roller-skating has increased in popularity in recent years meaning rinks have sprung up all over the place. This can be a fun way to try out the sport initially but if you want to take it one step further and purchase your own skates, parks offer the space to hone your skills! There are also clubs across the UK where you will be able to meet other people, learn new tricks like jumps and eventually compete in competitions if you so wish.
Health benefits: Roller-skating is a low impact, aerobic exercise that can improve circulation, muscle strength (including in the lower back and hamstrings), plus it may even help to reduce body fat in the long term. On top of this the activity can burn up to 600 calories in just one hour!
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Other unusual sports
If none of the sports listed above take your fancy or you want to try something even more adventurous then check out the list below!
6 Trampolining – no, this activity is not just for kids! There are trampolining clubs all over the country where you can learn the rules and tricks involved in it.
7 Walking football – this is perfect for anyone who wants to stay active but can’t participate in high impact sport. The rules are much the same as regular football only you can’t tackle and, unsurprisingly, you can’t run!
8 Synchronised/artistic swimming – swimmers complete a range of moves in water whilst accompanied to music. It has similarities to dance and gymnastics.
9 Crazy golf – whether you have an indoor or outdoor crazy golf course near you, this is an activity for the whole family!
10 Ultimate Frisbee – this is a great team sport but there are quite a lot of rules you’ll need to know about first. You could join a club to learn more about this but if this just feels a bit too complicated get your friends, family and frisbee together and head to your nearest park for a less serious game of catch instead.
11 Open water swimming – take swimming one step further by doing it in the sea! Stay safe and warm though by wearing the right equipment and joining a club.
12 Korfball – this is similar to basketball and netball and is played with two teams of eight. The aim is to throw a ball into a bottomless basket that sits on a high pole.
13 Aqualining – this adventurous activity involves working yourself across a slack line that is positioned 10 feett above water so it’s a test of balance and endurance!
14 Underwater hockey – this is basically normal hockey with snorkels, flippers and swim suits!
15 Canyoning – for those with an adventurous streak canyoning, which involves jumping, abseiling, swimming, climbing and walking down canyons, is ideal. You can find some popular canyoning spots in the UK here. All of these are done with the aid of a professional guide and equipment.
16 Rounders – this game takes place on a large playing field where one team bowls and the other bats. The team batting has to hit the ball out with the field and then run to a series of markers around the field before the other team gets the ball back to the bowler. It’s a bit like baseball.
17 Polo – if you’re a horse rider then this one’s for you. Played on horseback with two teams, polo involves using a wooden mallet to hit a ball between two goal posts.
18 Water polo – in this game a team wins points by throwing a ball into a net. The team with the most points at the end is the winner – easy!
19 Rap running – this is basically abseiling but facing towards the ground rather than up – it’s definitely not an activity for those with a fear of heights!
20 Kite flying – this is a nice one! Simply dig your long forgotten kite out of the garage or treat yourself to a new one and take your friends or family to a park or beach to try it out.