Nothing says summer quite like a dip in the water. When performed at the proper intensity, swimming can provide a full-body workout that’s easy on the joints and effective at any age. But swimming isn’t the only way to enjoy the water. From log rolling and paddleboarding to surfing and beyond, the water’s resistance and energy lends itself to a variety of exercises for people at any fitness level.
If you’re looking to move beyond swimming and explore the world of water exercises, consider these five activities this summer.
Who would’ve thought a recreational activity from more than 200 years ago would be a popular way to stay fit in the modern world? Log rolling, as the name suggests, is an exercise in which you try to run on top of a log (real or synthetic) that’s floating in water, rolling it as you go along. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. To keep from falling off the log and into the water, you need to combine balance, coordination and swift feet movements.
Hopping onto the log is like stepping onto a moving treadmill. As soon as you’re on, you have to bend your knees and work that lower body in order to stay vertical. Your core muscles are constantly being exerted, and your torso always has to be a little ahead of the log. Overall, log rolling combines footwork and balance with a high cardio, low-impact workout.
With more than 500 programs in the U.S., log rolling could be the perfect sport to explore this summer.
Standup Paddleboarding (SUP)
SUP might look like a sport designed for the Instagram generation, but it’s actually a solid workout. When done correctly, you can burn nearly 500 calories per hour through standup paddleboarding. During this exercise, your core and obliques are called into action as your body tries to maintain balance on the board, and your shoulders and arms are constantly exerted as you paddle through the water. Meanwhile, the choppiness of the water resonates across your glutes and quads.
But SUP isn’t effective when you’re simply floating on your board; the key is to trigger those back and abdominal muscles via vigorous paddling. According to one study, a paddler needs to really dig into the water, twisting the torso with each stroke, in order to generate enough energy to constitute a workout.
Besides being a popular pastime for water lovers around the globe, surfing also offers a high-quality all-round cardiovascular exercise. Your shoulder and back muscles are exerted and sculpted as you paddle toward a wave. Your legs and core are strengthened as you learn to steady yourself on the board. With these major benefits, it’s no wonder that even amateur surfers seem to have trim physiques, formed by the ocean and time spent on the board.
As a beginner, start on a sandy beach with a number of beach breaks. Make sure the leg rope is secured at both ends and the top end of your board is waxed for a superior grip. If there are experienced surfers around, watch and learn how they get out on the surf. Surfing isn’t as easy as it looks, but with a little perseverance, you can master the basics in no time. While indoor surf pools are a great place to start, there’s nothing better than the energy of surfing in the ocean.
Sailing worked for Hemingway, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work for you. The joy of sailing is in the number of minute tasks that need to be attended to while at sea. The physicality involved in pulling lines, directing the rudder and hiking helps develop muscle strength. Being on a boat also helps with balance, as the constant movement of the vessel gives you no option but to develop sea legs as soon as possible.
Aerobically, every movement on a sailing boat requires exertion. If you take up this water sport on a regular basis, you’ll find your body adapting to the changes. Joining a sailing club is a good idea for beginners, as you learn the basics of being out on the water and how to deal with an emergency when you’re far from land. Sailing is also a great way of connecting with nature, and the solitude offered by the sea can help you stay calm under pressure when you’re back on dry land.
Swimming in a pool is one thing; taking a dip in nature’s aquarium is a whole other experience. But aside from the captivating visuals, snorkeling provides a variety of health benefits.
Using a snorkeling tube as a breathing apparatus underwater is not as simple as it sounds and, as such, is a great way of increasing lung capacity. Snorkeling helps improve maximum oxygen intake which, in turn, conditions your body to master a superior breathing technique. Snorkeling is usually considered a recreational activity, but it also helps triathletes prepare for physically demanding races. If you take to snorkeling seriously, you get the best of both worlds: an introduction to marine life and improved physical health.
Whether you’re out rolling on a log or perfecting your sailing technique, the water always has something new to offer. With summer in full swing, there’s no time like now to explore a new water sport that challenges your fitness and helps you achieve the variety your body craves.