Burn In the Water
H20 lovers, rejoice! Here’s the skinny on how to drop weight and get in shape in the water
Finding the appropriate fitness direction to take for long-term weight management doesn’t always mean following the signs to the local gym – or even the a running path or biking trail. According to experts, water sports are one of the best, low-impact ways to get a serious workout that also feels remarkably like playtime.
Here are five waist-whittling suggestions for having fun and getting fit in the water:
The Burn: Paddlers can scorch through 500 to 1,000 calories per hour, depending on their pace.
Health and fitness benefits: Recently popularized by such über-fit celebrities as Jennifer Aniston and Matthew McConaughey, not only is stand-up paddling a phenomenal core workout, it also has numerous cross-training benefits, says Brad Jurica, a personal trainer and instructor for Argyle Men’s Adventure Boot Camp in Dallas. The strength and balance required to stay upright and move forward constantly engages the ankles, legs, hips, buttocks, arms, neck, back and stomach muscles. It’s also a good cardio workout, and because it can be done in the waves or on flat water, it’s generally safe and easy enough for people of all ages and shapes.
Expert tip: Put safety first. Use an ankle leash attached to the board when paddling on a lake or ocean. Never use a leash on a river, because it can snag and hold a paddler down. Paddle up-wind first, since it requires more energy. Weaker swimmers should wear a life vest.
The Burn: Approximately 206 calories per hour, or the number of calories in about one serving of ice cream.
Health and fitness benefits: Thanks to all the paddling required to reach and catch a wave, surfing is one of the best cardiovascular workouts around, Jurica says. Paddling also provides a fantastic workout for the back and shoulders. Once they’re standing up, surfers work the legs, hip flexors and core as they balance and guide the board. Surfing is exercise that’s also good for mental well-being, says Jurica, who considers the splashy sport his favorite workout. “Professional longboard surfer Joel Tudor has said that Ponce de León, in search of the fountain of youth, only had to jump over the side of the boat in order to find it,” he says.
Expert tip: “One of the hardest things about surfing is that you use muscles in your neck, core and back that you likely haven’t used in a while,” Jurica says. Anyone considering an attempt at surfing on an upcoming vacation should prepare by doing push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and simultaneous dorsal and leg raises to condition back muscles in order to remain in the paddling position for multiple hours.
The Burn: Approximately 415 to 670 calories per hour, depending on the pace.
Health and fitness benefits: The motions involved in swimming combined with the effort it takes to keep afloat make swimming a fantastic total-body workout, says Ashley Conrad, a former competitive swimmer and Los Angeles-based celebrity fitness coach who recently trained Bradley Cooper for his role in “The A-Team.” This low-impact exercise utilizes the triceps, deltoids, lats, glutes, hip flexors and core, but it also strengthens the heart, lungs and joints.
Expert tip: Endless laps at the same pace in the pool can get just as tiresome as ticking off monotonous miles on the treadmill. Conrad suggests shaking things up by swimming intervals. Swim one lap as fast as possible and then rest for 15 seconds; repeat 10 times. Then swim two laps as fast as possible, and repeat five times. Swimmers should continue that alternation for an hour, or for a length of time that suits their individual training level.
The Burn: Approximately 405 calories, which is equal to about one large mocha or latte.
Health and fitness benefits: Just getting up on a water ski in the first place requires a ton of both lower and upper body strength, Conrad says. Skiing works the shoulders, biceps, triceps, quadriceps, hip flexors, hamstrings, upper back, glutes, calves and forearms. Secondarily, it works the abdominals, chest and lower back. And that’s just when going straight ahead, never mind the jumps, flips and tricks!
Expert tip: To kick up this watery workout a notch, do deep squats while balancing on speeding skis. Hold the position for a few seconds, pop back up and then repeat. “Combine this move with the rapid muscle contractions caused by the natural vibrations of cruising across a bumpy wake, and you’re definitely going to feel it the next day,” Conrad says.
The Burn: Approximately 342 calories per hour, or the calorie equivalent of a margarita.
Health and fitness benefits: This low-impact paddle-sport is the perfect activity for anyone who wants to strengthen and define the upper body, Conrad says. It takes approximately 500 strokes to propel a boat forward one mile, during which the shoulders, arms, lats and core are in perpetual motion. And these muscles work extra hard because they’re fighting the resistance of the water.
Expert tip: One of the reasons kayaking has become so popular is that it can be done in just about any body of water, from shallow ponds to rough seas. But for optimal comfort and efficiency, it’s important to make sure the boat is fitted to an individual’s body: The small of the back should be tight against the seatback; the balls of the feet should brace against the foot pedals; and the knees, when bent, should be in contact with the sides of the cockpit.
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