Keeping fit in Dominican Republic

Hello everyone,

Keeping fit during your time in Dominican Republic is of utmost importance. How about sharing with us and your fellow expats how you keep healthy in your host country?

What are your daily health hacks in Dominican Republic?

Do you exercise regularly? What is your go-to sport?

Do you manage to keep your diet healthy and balanced? How easy is it to maintain a balanced diet in Dominican Republic? Are you able to find organic products easily?

Are there national or local incentives to foster a healthy lifestyle: sensitisation campaigns, sports infrastructure etc. ?

How much of your monthly budget is dedicated to keeping fit?

Please share your experience,


Another interesting topic.

Fitness - there are gyms everywhere. We have franchise gyms and local gyms.  Monthly cost is from about us $10 and up.  Within 7 minutes apartment are 5 franchise gyms.  I have one in my apartment complex!

For me I just Dance to stay fit!  It works. I can dance 7 days and nights a week 364 days a year. 

You can walk/ run here 12 months of the year! Cycling can be dangerous! Baseball is everywhere. Soccer/football is growing and we even have some American football.

Food -  the typical Dominican diet is not particularly healthy.

Good healthy food - fruits and vegetables are readily available.   Specialty food are becoming more and more available.  A modified local / Expat diet is reasonably priced.

Agree with planner. Gyms galore.

Our home is at the top of a big hill. We walk it rather than drive, whenever possible. We have light flashing straps for night walking. I cycle in the States. Cannot imagine doing it here. Uncle and Auntie Buck are doing it though.....

From what I hear, it is even possible to rack up a few miles strolling the beach with a frio Presidente or pina con rum in one hand and picking up trash with the other. Keeping a good pace of course. 😉

Now it is walking, though slower with a guide.  For those of my ancient years, you remember the 'Kicked sand in my face'  Charles Atlas magazine ads?   his method was called "Dynamic Tension".  It worked then & still works now.  Local fruits & produce are cheap & almost all chemical free.  I see   far more fat expats than fat locals, (pecentage wise).   I'm excluding the propensity for protuberent  butts on the women.  The inherited condition known as steatopgyia.  (sp)   Changing from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one requires some fortitude. To be fit here is easier due to climate & options available.Healthy people smile more.   Sports & sporting events are a large part of the local life here.    Where there is a will...... there is a relative.

Now if you live in a resort area like Las Terrenas, there are miles of wonderful beaches to walk and swim every day and that kept me in good shape a few years back. Now in the city I try to walk as much as possible, have a stepper trainer in the apartment and work keeps me active too. And we get out into the campo a few times a month and the car is left parked when there, plus the aim of a once a month resort visit and plenty of beach time and swimming.

As far as food goes, organic food is here in abundance. My start to the day is a minimum of 5 tropical fruits, locally produced sugar free orange juice, locally made high fibre cereal with local milk and Santo Domingo coffee. I get more than my daily dose of fibre that way. And then fish and white meat is available for a good balanced main meal. Lucky those who live on the coast and can buy direct off fishermen. I miss buying fish at the back of the cemetery on the beach in Las Terrenas fresh off the boats. I don't miss my western foods except tasty back bacon butties with HP brown sauce and traditional UK cod and chips and those are treats when I get back to my home country. I do get friends to bring over my favourite Tetley tea bags because weak teas available here have zero impact (coffee is breakfast only for me).

Dominicans especially town and city folk tend to be overweight and live an unhealthy lifestyle with food containing too much fat and salt plus the now widely available fast food. Their beach activity is feeding and drinking with loud music. Contrast that with the those living in rural DR who work the land and are damn fit through a tough existence. Their traditional diet of rice with pulses in a sauce and small amounts of meat/eggs and vegetables in a sauce plus fruit has now been supplemented by too much fried meats and pastas. Yes they do eat plenty of plantain and roots but with hard physical work that is essential. Now many have relocated to towns and cities and don't do the hard physical work anymore but still eat so much starch, fried food and western foods such as pizza and burgers.

DR is definitely a destination for people who would like to live a healthy lifestyle with an abundance of natural foods available and plenty of rolling countryside, mountains, forests, rivers, lakes and beaches. An eco-conscious persons dream destination! Wish I was young again.

As a side note, I wonder how many took notice of the EAT-Lancet Food, Planet, Health report this past few days and reported widely in the world press and here in DR too.

You can download and read the summary and it is a good worthwhile read imo.

DR could support such a new diet but frankly few will take notice.

You can hardly go wrong with the food here.... all natural
(Be sure to purify vegetables)
Beef is poor but fish, chicken and pork are plentiful and good.

All in all healthier than Canada or USA...IMO

Easy to stay active....

Yup, Christie nailed it.  We are biking and walking everywhere local, as much as we can. We don't plan on owning a car, but kitted out our bikes with saddle bags to do grocery runs.  It's not without danger, but neither is continuing to be an overweight, almost middle-aged guy.  We plan on cycling from Sosua to Cabarete one day soon, as it is fairly level. For those days we don't want to or can't take the bikes, our community offers an hourly shuttle bus to a few places in Sosua and to Cabarete.  As Tinker says, changing the lifestyle requires effort.  We moved here to get healthier, so not having a car is the easiest way.

Lennox - thank for sharing that report. Its interesting and the situation is far worse than I thought.

in terms of DR, I searched honey but cannot find white rice on that document!  :D  :D  :D

When I lived in the campo near Villa Altagracia, rice was grown by the locals on their plots of land in the hills (rather than the flat fields seen in the Cibao) and when harvested after the rains they brought the rice down and used the same methods that the Egyptians used to separate out the grains of rice.

Bleached white rice, flours and sugars are aspects of food preparation imported from other countries and we buy whole grain and raw products at supermarkets at a premium.

You can buy bags of rice from the mills directly if you know where to go and want something nearer the brown rice now sold for a big premiums at supermarkets.

Hey and what is wrong with moro with herbs and veg being added to the white rice ( … beans.html) or guandules guisados being added to the needed starch for the manual workers?

Sorry honey,  white rice in any form is still white rice. No  value except it is cheap and makes em full!

I only eat whole grain rice etc and I pay the premium. In fact I eat very very little of it.

Accepting the changes in language so as to be politically correct is a curse on reality.  No longer can we say someone is FAT, no matter how correct that observation may be.  We have to say 'curvy' large, or of enhanced stature. So many other ways to say 'fat'. Obese can be a medical condition, a sad one to be sure. What I rail at is the attempt to deny that fat is fat. It is never healthy & not to accept it as a norm..  A far cry from sophtic art works. In those times it indicated wealth.  Now the the rich are slender & the poor are overweight.  To allow the fat to say it is normal, is to say that being fit & healthy is bad. Get off your duff & gain some self respect for your health.  I know they won't, but maybe someone will. Use the words that truly describe reality. Fitness doesn't mean skinny, it means what is best for your body & mind.  Yeah, and fat ain't one of them! I personally enjoy a Small belly on my lady.  I said Small.......


PC Speak for Fat

Corpulence Enabled
CEH (Circumference Exceeds Height)
Adipose Endowed
Well Insulated Body
Improved Natural Buoyancy

What's critical is health not size. 

Let's  not stray too far.....

The Dominican diet is very healthy, if you keep track of your fat balance. To keep the tempeature of your body at an agreeable level your body needs  lot of energy. And the Dominican diet is energyrich if anything.

I used to be walking a lot, untill the complicated fracture of my left leg. Now the Dominican diet is getting my body into a slightly different shape... (I still walk, but with a cane).

Eat Bibere as much as possible, cut down on the Arroz and eat a lot of fresh fruit, Aduacate among the fruits please.

As to sports, I agree with you. Mix with the locals and find a Gancha, (check the corners of your street).
Do not fry yourself in the sun on the beachm go for a long swim instead!

M Kruissen:

Many expats who live here and especially those who live in the tourist spots would question your statements about Dominican food being healthy having lived in proximity to a section of society who eat poorly with far too much salty fried food and insufficient fruit and veg.

I understand your statements and perhaps this is a cue for a stand alone thread on Dominican cuisine. I do believe it is one of the strong positives of the country.


I agree with you.  There is little or no healthy food in the Dominican Republic.  That is why so many , especially women have large hips and thighs.  Too much rice, potatoes, tooka (spelling: taste and looks like a potato), fried plaintain, French fries, fat on pork and beef.  Sugary sodas and large beer consumption.  And a lot of candy.  Rum.  And of course, deep fried pescado (fish).  This is about 70% of their diet.  Or so it seems.  And I eat at Dominicans homes once or twice a week.

Having said that, there are wonderful fruits and vegetables that are available.  It is easy to buy healthy food and avoid those listed above.  Papaya is extremely healthy and helps prevent cancer.  Google it.

Note that I have lived in the Dominican Republic for the last thirteen years or so. I di not live in a tourism hotspot, but in a street of a Dominican town, in a Dominican 'villa'.
I am perhaps not the averige expat, married to a Dominican, living like a Dominican. That changes my views of processed foods and its benefits, against the more basic and natural Dominican food.

When I read 'sugary sodas, fried foods, etc'  I think of the the US and Canada where fast food diets reign.
That is not to say one cannot eat well/healthy in those countries -- just tha
people choose not to

Same applies in RD except that poverty plays a role in the choices.

No additives in the meat... fresh fruit/vegs daily...
Not fruit/veg shipped from CA to NYC... FRESH off the tree

I also have lived that campo life and still go there a few times monthly and can see the healthy aspects of what was and still can be found in traditional Dominican food.

OK folks,  time for a cooking fact.  Deep frying is NOT unhealthy for you. It depends on the temperature of the oil.  350 degrees is the minimum temp.  The oil then immediately sears the outside of the food & then acts as a heat exchange medium to cook the food. Then there is no oil penetration of the product. Hence, NO greasy food. A simple way to know if the oil is hot enough, stick the tip of a wooden spoon into the oil. If lots of tiny bubbles come out of the spoon, time to fry.   The fresh produce & fruits available here are wonderful. Try veggies you never saw or had before.  As long as you  keep the salt levels down, all is well. Lack of exercise is as much at fault for the fatties as is their diet.   But then again, think on this, there isn't anyone starving in the DR.   Keep on frying eat well, I do...

and for our friend Big Bob

tooka might be yucca......

Yes, great mashed with butter & a little sour cream!

here you go Tinker, Tailor, Soldier,Spy

Nutritional Value of Yuca Root. Along with rice and corn, yuca is one of the primary sources of carbs in the tropics. A single cup provides 330 calories, 78 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, but only 1 gram of fat.Nov 4, 2018

Note the low fat  content...... contrary to another post

And one of the better sources of carbs as it has FIBER. That is the issue with white rice, while its cheap and easy it converts in our bodies very quickly! Fiber slows down the absorption of the carbs.

There is a massive incidence of  diabetes in this country so eating  white rice is like eating sugar.

Sometimes the fat content is not about the food but about how it is cooked.   Lots of bad oils are  used here in cooking along with lots of salt.

Yuca Dominican style is boiled with red onions and a tad of olive oil, and vinegar ( yuca encebollada). It has a different texture to other starches and if you select well without excessive fibres it can be a great side dish.

Make sure you pick some up from the side of the road vendors net time you trip into the campo.

And it makes great empanadas. I do enjoy them so much!

Commonly in the campo, people grow yuca, sweet potato and guandules together on the same plot. Basics in the Dominican diet. Throw in a few plantains and banana and that supports their basic diet. It is guandule picking season and you will see people picking the pods off the bushes as you drive through the countryside and also the children and grandmother peeling the pods for the peas inside.

I want to thank everyone for the feedback.  All is well received. 

Of course we all have choices.  I will tell you sugary sodas are on sharp decline in America.  But having lived in China for 2.5 years and now being in the Dominican Republic, Coca Cola reigns supreme.  FYI, not Pepsi.   Their people don't read negative advertising on the damage they do to your health and are not informed. 

Fast food restaurants.  Due to western fast food restaurants and lot of advertising for sugary drinks in China, obesity is a serious problem in China.  KYC is bigger than McDonald's in China.  I saw where they now, that China is one of the most obese people in the world.  Remember, they have been eating rice for over 4000 years. 

I do However,  do not agree fried foods are good for you.  I worked at and was trained at the Marriott Corporation and know well about fried foods.  Olive oil and especially extra virgin olive oil has been proven to be healthy. In China they sell soy and corn oil by the gallon.  It is by far the biggest section in grocery stores.

But it cannot be denied, the large hips and butts on most Dominican women.

Fried food, adds flavor to everything.  I love fried food as much as anyone.  But too, I no longer consume over 50% of what I use to 25 years ago , and I am much healthier for it today.  It is a conscious awareness.

Yes I heard about Yucca.  And have seen it growing on the fields.  And as Planner and others pointed out, it may be the healthiest vegetable in the Dominican Republic.  Maybe what I called tocca was Yucca and I have eaten it.

Thanks one and all.  No insults intended.  My apologies to anyone offended.

All good discussion.

You will find that mostly bad oils are consumed here.  That is usually a matter of economics unfortunately..

Hello everyone,

Some off-topic posts have been removed from this thread since its subject is about one's own fitness level.

Thank you,


Planner aka DDDDBD.

You are absolutely correct.  I noticed this especially when frying chicken.  After frying, the chicken retains a lot of oil, unlike most in America and even China.  It begs the question, how healthy is it?  Since we are digesting a lot of it in the foods we fry.

Note:  Brown rice is considerably healthier than white rice.  Google it.

Fact:  Olive oil and extra virgin olive oil is more expensive but healthier.   

P.S.  I noticed they spell virgin, virgEn on their labels.  Typo or by design?

I use  whole grain rice the few time per year that I eat it. 

In addition Butter is way more expensive than the other options too.

The nutritional facts are all there on the labels of the cooking oils that are available in the supermarkets.

I personally use Canola oil for general cooking from Mazola or Crisol as well as olive oil plus seasame oil for some Asian dishes.

What does disturb me is that there is a market for used cooking oil in DR. That begs the question, are some commercial establishments perhaps refining and using used oils?

As mentioned earlier by a poster, Avocado is a key staple in the Dominican diet and is an excellent balance to bad fats found in meats. It is a good food with high good fat content. DR is the second largest producer of avocados in the world behind Mexico, yet is only the 13th largest exporter which tells you how many avocados are consumed here. And they are great avocados with Carla, Semil 34 and Pepenoe varieties being commonly available rather than the small Hass so common in European and NA shops.

Spot on!  There are USDA rules in USA, as it relates to changing cooking oil.  You can taste the difference in fresh vs several day old oil.  Many smaller restaurants don't follow the normal timeline when to change due to costs.  Of course, in China and the Dominican Republic. I don't believe they monitor changing oil.  They typically level off what is consumed daily.

This begs the question, just how old is the cooking oil in deep fryers at the restaurant you are eating at?

Having been involved in F & B most of my adult life, my experience, which includes working in and managing full service and fast food Hot Shoppe Marriott owned establishments, and living in China for 2.5 years, it is difficult for me to understand the results of food cooked in fresh oil purchased in the Dominican Republic. I have never experienced anything like this before, the retention of oil on cooked foods. 

What complicates the matter, is, I don't see a lot oil on fried Pescado or Pollo at restaurants, to include small beach huts.  They typically are dry.  The only explanation, is, their oil is much hotter.

We all know that the monitoring and management of regulations is suspect. There is a market for used cooking oil here, it is filtered cleaned and resold in many areas.

Most beach huts will grill the fish over a charcoal heated plate and so use the oils in the fish to cook.

I avoid fried fish period! Ask for 'a la plancha'!

How can we distinguish between fresh and re-processed oil?  I don't suspect It is noted on the bottle. 

It would make sense to me, to hear I am using the latter.

I would win bets with my customers that they could not squeeze oil out of my fried chicken, fries or any thing that I deep fried. But then my fryer was kept at 425 & never over  loaded with product so as to bring the temp down too far.  I still say properly done, deep fried foods are healthy.  Pan frying is another story. Have to be very careful with it. Stir frying is a bit easier to keep the oil temp high enough.  The kitchen oders will let you know if old oil is used.  Once smelled, like pot, it is never forgotten.  Eat less, walk more & be fit.

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