Don't Enjoy Exercise? Try Water Sports
Not everyone who spends time in a rowing shell does it to stay in shape. Some find the beauty of nature on the river; others enjoy the break from the daily grind of a fitness regime.
But rowing is just one of the many activities you can try when you head for the water. Canoeing, sailing, swimming, windsurfing, fishing, water-skiing, snorkeling, surfing, scuba-diving -- all these water-based activities have a lot in common. They are easy on the body. And maybe more important, they're enjoyable.
When it comes to water sports, rowing is almost unequaled as an all-around exercise, experts say. That's because when you row, you use all the major muscle groups -- legs, glutes, back, arms. And rowing is easy on the knees, ankles and hips because you don't have to support your body weight.
Perhaps that's why the lingering whiff of Ivy League snobbishness that once wafted around rowing is disappearing as the sport enjoys a mini-boom. Only on the water can you get such a great workout combined with such a large dose of natural beauty. The only aerobic exercise that comes close to burning as many calories as fast is cross-country skiing. At higher intensities, both burn about 30 calories per minute. Running hard (say, six-minute miles) burns about 21 calories per minute.
People who don't row often have the wrong idea about which muscles do most of the work: They think it's all in the arms. Although your arms do get stronger when you row, most of the power in rowing comes from your legs.
Using a sliding seat, you lean forward, put the oars in the water, then drive your legs backward, propelling the oars through the water. You finish the stroke by pulling with your back and finally your arms.
Geta workout without the work
If you're looking for low-impact, high-fun exercise, head for the nearest body of water. You'll find an activity or sport that's fun -- and that means you're likely to keep at it.
A walk on the beach or to your favorite river or lake will get you warmed up. Fishing itself burns an average of about five calories a minute, but your output varies greatly depending on whether you're wading through water or just standing there with a pole in your hands.
Swimming is an excellent aerobic workout, experts say. And recreational swimmers suffer few injuries because the water -- not your joints -- supports your body weight.
Small boat sailing and boardsailing
The agility and stamina required might surprise you, but the fun is obvious. If you enjoy them, consider buying a wet suit and extending the season by several months.
Aerobics and strength training have taken to the water. Like swimming, these are low-impact activities, but you can do them with other people and to music. Some health clubs are now building pools especially for these increasingly popular activities.
This isn't the same workout you'd get in a rowing shell, because most of the work in a canoe is done by your upper body. But paddling a canoe is a fun workout that burns calories at the rate of about eight per minute.
Snorkeling and scuba diving
These may take some specialized training and equipment. Once you're in the water, though, these are great workouts, burning as much as 16 calories per minute.
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