In Zimbabwe, a cemetery has become an exercise hotspot

Published 10:12 am Friday, September 11, 2015

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Caroline Vumbunu believes that exercising among the dead helps prolong her life.

Every morning, the 59-year-old takes power walks in the Warren Hills cemetery in Zimbabwe’s capital.

She’s not alone. The cemetery has become a workout site for dozens of other Zimbabweans due to a lack of gyms and other exercise venues in many Harare neighborhoods. Vumbunu navigates not only through rows of graves but also past people performing calisthenics.

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At 5 a.m. on a recent day, the well-maintained Muslim and adjacent Jewish sections of the cemetery were already teeming with activity. The fitness enthusiasts tend to avoid other parts of the cemetery, established in 1957, that are poorly maintained, with collapsing grave markers and potholed roads.

The dozens of men and women broke up into groups for routines led by instructors. Dressed in colorful track suits, they did pushups and crunches on a cemetery road bordered by countless graves.