Want to beat the heat while you exercise? Fortunately, there are many wonderful, kid-friendly activities to make water sports fun and entertaining for the whole family, writes Nutrition and Exercise Scientist Kathleen Alleaume.
Water exercise doesn’t have to mean swimming lap after lap at your local pool. There are plenty of ways to get fit and build muscle in the water – and have lots of fun while you’re at it! From ocean swimming to snorkelling or pedal-boating, there’s an option for all fitness levels.
People of all ages find pedal boating to be a fun water experience. Adults can enjoy a quiet and relaxing shoreline tour while getting in a little exercise. Kids love the excitement of being able to operate the boat on their own. As you pedal in the safe shallow surrounds of lakes, rivers, bays or harboursides, this activity strengthens and tones your lower body. It provides a low-impact cardio workout, making it a great exercise for people with joint problems. It also helps improve flexibility and range of mobility. The upright sitting position helps to tighten back and abdominal muscles. Most boats fit up to four people, and boat hire prices range from $50–$150 for 1-hour to half-day hire.
Kayaking is a sport that almost anyone can learn. Not only is it good for the cardiovascular system, it’s a great form of upper body strength training, working the upper arms, chest and back. Kayaking also builds core abdominal strength, due to the twisting motion involved. Having strong abdominal muscles gives you better posture, reduces your waistline and protects against back injuries and lower back pain. Many national parks offer kayak rentals for a minimal fee. Some packages include camping and/or hiking as well. Prices start from $20 per hour.
Swimming is a refreshing way to get or stay in shape. But rather than swim lap after lap in a swimming pool, why not enjoy a change in scenery and head to your local beach for a workout? You don’t have to be an experienced athlete to try ocean swimming – anyone can do it. All you need is your swimmers and a pair of goggles in summer, and a wetsuit in winter. Beginners might like to join an ocean swimming group for safety and to learn how to spot a rip. Not only do you get to experience some interesting marine life while you’re exercising, but you’ll be gaining great cardiovascular fitness by recruiting all major muscle groups. These include shoulders, back, abdominals, legs, hips and buttocks; giving you an all-over body workout, without the weight of your body pounding on your joints. As you gain more confidence and are ready for a challenge, you may wish to swim competitively. Beginner ocean swims start at 5km. Log onto www.oceanswims.com for more details.
With minimal equipment required – a mask, snorkel and fins – snorkelling provides many health benefits and is suitable for all levels of fitness. Because you’re forced to hold your breath underwater for sustained periods of time, snorkelling is a great form of cardiovascular fitness. It tones and strengthens the upper and lower body as you swim and push your muscles against the natural resistance of the water. Like any aquatic exercise, snorkelling is low-impact, making it suitable for those suffering joint pain or stiffness. Another reason to consider snorkelling is that it’s very relaxing. Swimming slowly and taking in the underwater environment can provide you with one of the most enjoyable adventures. To ensure correct snorkelling technique, first-timers may wish to begin in shallow waters, such as a pool, lake or river, then build up to the ocean in search of beautiful reefs and colourful fish.
Stand-up paddle boarding
Not quite ready to try surfing yet? Give stand up paddle boarding a go. The best part about paddle boarding is that it’s so much fun – you don’t even feel like you’re exercising. Originating in Hawaii, this sport provides moderate-intensity cardio training, while conditioning the upper body to do the paddling work and strengthening the core muscles for balance and support. After one lesson you will gain skills in balance, improve your strength and general fitness. A 1-hour lesson can start from $50.
Benefits of water exercise
Perfect if you have an injury as it’s low/no impact
Natural resistance of water gives higher workout intensity