Sport Machen: Exercising in Germany

Sport Machen: Exercising in Germany

[False Friend alert: “Sport machen” in German is closer to ‘doing exercise’ in English, not necessarily playing sport!]

After all the delicious breads and beers and cakes that Germany has in such abundant supply all around you, your body might start sending you certain signals … certainly if you are here for more than a few weeks. The lederhosen you bought in October might start looking mighty tight in January. You might need to do that only non-fad thing that works: eat less and move more. The eat less I’ll have to leave up to you; but for the ‘move more’ there are plenty of good exercise options, so I’ll cover a few of those that I have tried, or at least have been informed are good by locals.



Firstly, the humble bicycle—well, not so humble here in Germany. I was amazed at the availability and varied types and configurations for all sorts of purposes. And I was also amazed at some of the prices. There is everything from the proper cyclist style to twin-baby plus shopping-carrying three-wheeled carthorses.

Plus, the bike paths are very well laid out, so it’s a much safer way to get around than in my home country: Australia. (Just watch out for them when you’re out walking…). So, you get around Germany and you get some exercise at the same time!

The only problem is that, if you are not going to be here for a long time, you might not want to fork over the Euros they are asking for new bikes in most shops. However, buying second-hand can work out well, and most bike shops offer a relatively inexpensive servicing/repair option.

The Gym

Secondly, there are the gyms. These “Fitnesstudios” range from the typical brands you see everywhere, with all the typical top-of-the-range contemporary equipment, right down to the more localised and municipality funded “Turnvereine”, which are cheaper but not quite so well-decked out, and generally catering to older populations. (I saw throw-back equipment dating back to the 70s … but in excellent working order!)

They do have all the basics covered, however, and I certainly got a solid workout at my local. However, memberships tend to be very ‘lock-in’ orientated. If you’re not going to be around for more than a few months, the casual rates are very high.

(Ready to take a break and check out that bread we mentioned earlier? Have a look here – don’t worry, we won’t tell!)


I got involved in calisthenics while I was here (and, no, not the dancing kind!) which is a fancy word for exercise using predominantly your own bodyweight. Calisthenics is something you can do at home with minimal equipment or even no equipment at all. Germany does have a number of calisthenics parks dotted around the countryside, so you can lift and run in the open air (check out to see what’s near you).

There is a multitude of perfectly free calisthenics tutorials on the internet to get you started. From calisthenics, you may one day want to try one of the Parkour parks Germany has to offer, running and leaping and spinning around and over and through urban objects and landscapes that becomes both spectacular and death-defying at its highest levels. The park-level at least gives you a safer environment to work on basic movements before going out into the urban jungle.

Parkour Workout - Strength & Conditioning for Free Runners - The Bioneer

Public Facilities for Physical Exercise and Training

Finally, Germany has many public facilities for exercising, like mini soccer fields and basketball hoops usually attached to parks and gardens. They are generally very well-maintained and you might only be up for the cost of a ball and a pump and you are up and moving.

It’s also a great way to meet others and start socializing… maybe trying out your SmarterGerman on some fittergermans? Have you tried SmarterGerman yet? Why not give the FREE article-buster course a go for faster progress?

FAQs about physical exercise and sports activities in Germany

Here are some of the questions people ask about sports and physical exercise in Germany.

Is it “Sport treiben” or “Sport machen”?

Both “Sport treiben” and “Sport machen” are commonly used in German as ways to talk about physical exercise, but the first phrase is more widely accepted. It is the preferred expression when referring to engaging in sports or physical activities.

How often do Germans exercise?

Exercise habits vary among Germans, but many prioritize physical activity. On average, a significant portion of the population engages in regular exercise, with a common routine of several times per week.

Is Germany a physically active and healthy country?

Generally, German society places importance on physical activity and health. The country promotes a healthy lifestyle, and many Germans like exercising and doing outdoor activities. However, individual habits may vary, and not everyone adheres to an active life.

What are some popular forms of exercise in Germany?

Examples of popular forms of physical exercise include cycling, hiking, and swimming. Gym-based workouts, such as weight training and cardio exercises, are also popular in Germany.

Summing Up: Exercising in Germany

Navigating Germany’s culinary wonders, keeping fit becomes a rewarding pursuit. Exercise can be a form of self-care amidst hearty indulgences. With myriad options, Germany caters to any choice, offering a balance between savoring local delights and keeping fit. Want to learn more about German culture? Come check out our blog!