Ready to dive in? One of the best and easiest way to get fit in the water is by swimming. “Swimming is a great cardio workout and won't stress the knees like running can,” says Leigh Schafer, US Masters swim coach and a USA triathlon coach. Plus, it blasts calories. “Swimming will burn a lot of calories even if you aren't an Olympic swimmer. A person weighing 150 pounds swimming for an hour will burn between 475 and 750 calories depending on speed.” If it's been a while since you swam, just start out slow, advises Schafer. “If you have never swum, you can find an instructor who works with adults and take some lessons.” Swimmers of all levels can join a Masters Swim group.
If you’ve ever been in a kayak, you know how engaged your muscles need to be, from your core to your upper body, to keep the vessel steady and going in the right direction. In terms of just how much energy you’re expending, kayaking can burn up to 350 calories an hour, says Kirk Reynolds, Discover Outdoors owner and adventure guide. “This is a great upper-body workout, with the opportunity to push yourself or take it easy for gentle exercise. Being on water also helps you relax mentally,” he notes.
While you might not think that the pure adrenaline rush you’re getting from a whitewater rafting trip is also giving you a body boost, it’s actually a fun way to stay fit. “It’s a great upper-body workout, and you'll be so focused on navigating the rapids that you won't notice how much muscle you're using,” says Reynolds. Oh, and all that heart-pumping action helps you burn up to 350 calories an hour — not a bad way to combine adventure and fitness.
Just trying to stay upright on a stand-up paddle board means calling on many major muscle groups. The fun water sport continues to grow in popularity, both as a beach activity for all ages and a unique way to get fit — it can burn up to 500 calories an hour, says Reynolds. “Even though paddle sports are excellent for the arms, shoulders, and back, SUP packs the extra punch of core stabilization to tone the entire body,” he explains.
This exciting activity is one of the best ways to burn calories on the water. In fact, kite boarding can burn up to 850 calories per hour and is a full-body workout, notes Tiara Cameron, fitness professional, owner of Womens-Protein.com and a big fan of the sport. “The learning process is fun and burns just as many calories as when you actually learn to ride the board,” she adds. Kite boarding is a sport you really should take lessons for so you learn how to be safe, but it is a sport even children can participate in.
One of the best water activities for getting into shape is SUP yoga — essentially yoga done on a stand-up paddle board. “SUP boarding already works a ton of muscles. Combine this with a vinyasa flow yoga class on the SUP board and you’re in for an incredible workout,” says Justine Thorner, a registered yoga instructor and certified health coach who coaches SUP yoga classes in Long Island, New York. “SUP yoga can burn between 500 and 700 calories per hour and works every muscle in the body, especially the core,” she explains. “Your core must be engaged the entire time to keep you balancing through the yoga poses.
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