Water sports have been quickly growing in popularity over the last few years, due in no small part to the obvious fitness benefits. When it comes to finding the motivation to exercise and tone yourself, the rush and sense of community that can be found across the range of water sports is hard to beat. The same can be said for the refreshing change of pace and scenery that a lot of us will enjoy when at a lake or by the seaside.
Being one of the most prominent water sport has its benefits and for surfing, it has made the sport more accessible than ever before. What really makes surfing a perfect entry to the water sports world is that there are hundreds of ASI accredited training schools around the world, not to mention countless groups dedicated to helping new and experienced surfers develop their skills.
The fitness benefits are startlingly apparent to anyone who has tried to go out on a board for any long period of time. The cardio endurance required for the prolonged time out at sea is a passive benefit compared to the core and leg workout you get from balancing on a moving board.
Even before you get on the water, the exercises you’ll need to do in order to master the required form will give you another easy boost. Planks and press-ups being the perfect opening exercise and leading to less time spent falling off the board.
Paddle boarding is a rising star when it comes to water sports with one of its biggest draws being the workout it provides. It’s a full-body activity that combines the core strength and balance workout you get from surfing with the arm and upper body strength required in kayaking.
The core and leg strength you can gain from maintaining your balance on the board is equivalent to hours of work in the gym doing squats and lunges and combines with the arm and back workout to give you a well-balanced workout without being stuck in the gym.
Being well balanced is the perfect byline for paddle boarding as without working on your balance, you’ll find yourself getting very wet. The best way to prepare yourself before heading out would be a mix of lunges and squats while making sure you don’t neglect your upper body too much. If you need a little support and are looking for a place that can teach you how to paddle board, we recommend using Learn 2 Paddle to find your nearest school. Alternatively, if you don’t want to wait, simply follow this guide by Red Paddle Co. on how to paddle like a pro.
As a sport, water polo has always been seen as requiring incredible fitness and strength from its players, not to mention the endurance to last through a full 32-minute game.
Widely renowned as one of the toughest sports in the world to play, water polo has all the fitness benefits of swimming with the added focus on hand-eye coordination. With the constant requirement of treading water coupled with the high level of awareness and bursts of activity, it isn’t rare to burn upwards of 500 calories a game! As a matter of fact, even training for this sport can give a workout for the entire body almost unrivalled in other sports. You’re constantly working against the water, which strengthens and tones the muscles without putting them, and your joints, under the strain they would get from training on land.
Water polo is a real challenge for anyone attempting it but the teamwork and community feel combined with the full-body workout make it an amazingly rewarding way of working out.
Heading back out to the open water, kayaking is another great way to work out different muscle groups without feeling like you’re just exercising. There’s an obvious need for arm strength as well as maintaining your back and core, but you also use your glutes and thighs to help steer and balance the kayak.
Kayaking gives you all the plus points of a rowing machine while also working out the few muscles that a rowing machine neglects, with the added bonus of beautiful scenery and an ever-changing landscape. With a focus on toning your arms and back without losing the chance to work on your lower body too, kayaking can be a lower intensity way to work out almost all your key muscle groups over the course of an enjoyable morning or afternoon.
It goes without saying that in terms of preparation you won’t beat spending time on a rowing machine when it comes to kayaking, but make sure you remember to throw in some lower body exercises too to help stabilise yourself before heading out. Once on the water, make sure you follow this 5-point kayaking safety guide to help ensure your safety.
Diving is another lower impact workout that gives a lot of the same benefits as water polo but in a more relaxed setting. You’ll still be working against the water the entire time, giving you a decent all over workout, and you’ll be working on cardio continuously too, just without the competitive drive that is required for water polo.
Working on improving your lung capacity is a great way to give some focus to your regular cardio training, we all work better with a goal in sight, and will allow you to spend more time on each dive, increasing the amount of enjoyment and exploration you can get. Swimming is all about fighting water resistance to achieve the greatest movement for the least effort and scuba diving is no exception. You’ll work on all areas of your body as you dive and this constant workout leads to amazing calorie burns.
Before you head under you’ll want to have worked on a few deep breathing techniques, any cardio work you do will help here, along with a decent grasp of swimming, another great excuse to do a few lengths and work all those muscle groups.
As you’ve probably gathered the true benefit of water sports is in giving you a balanced work out without making it seem like a chore. The enjoyment from each activity can even spur you on when it comes to hitting the gym in an effort to get more from each sport.