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Fitness afloat - exercise on the water

Fitness afloat - exercise on the water

Have you seen the latest weather forecast? The sun is out and the temperature is rising, so the chance for ‘messing about on the river’ really starts to look appealing. With thousands of miles of inland waterways as well as our coastline, no-one in the UK has to travel too far to get on the water.

Watersports are accessible to people of any age and any level of fitness, and some are even adaptable for those with disabilities. All you need is basic swimming ability and the willingness to get wet. All these sports have organised qualifications and instruction schemes, designed to teach you the techniques and make you aware of the safety issues. Kit can be hired cheaply and water clubs always want new members.

If you want to be wind-powered, dinghy sailing and windsurfing are very popular in the UK. Grab your chance this weekend (May 17-18) at the nationwide ‘Push The Boat Out’ event, where clubs open up for visitors to try out sailing. Don’t think that the wind does all the work – you’ll be exercising stomach and legs by balancing the boat, and arms by working the sails.

Prefer paddle-power? Canoeing and kayaking are wonderful workouts for the upper body, and are great ways to explore narrow waterways. The new sport of stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is an even simpler approach.

Rowing is another option - a strenuous full-body workout with an active social side. Clubs operate both for competition and simply for the exercise, and the teamwork involved is a wonderful motivator.

These sports are great exercise – but extra training will help you enjoy them more. So if the weather isn’t right, head for the gym to build up your water muscles!