3 Ways to Get Fit in the Water
Make a splash all summer long with these three fun aquafit options.
While swimming is the obvious and popular summer water activity, don’t sleep on these other fun ways to get fit in the water.
(Related: The Health Benefits of Open-Water Swimming)
Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP)
SUP novices can look forward to a bunch of health benefits: A 2016 Australian study found that newbies who paddled three times a week for just six weeks improved their VO2 max—a key indicator of aerobic endurance—by more than 23 percent. Core strength shot up by more than 20 percent too. And mastering that tippy board even helps out of the water: A 2018 Brazilian study found that older adults who tried SUP saw their balance improve on dry land.
Canoeing and kayaking
Sit-down paddling is, perhaps unsurprisingly, exceptional for the upper body—for your trunk even more than your arms. Because the water resistance means you need to remain in constant motion, canoeing and kayaking also improve your cardiovascular health. Plus, paddling helps lift confidence: According to a study in the spectacularly named Journal of Leisurability, B.C. kayakers reported enhanced feelings of self-worth and satisfaction.
Don’t discount the advantages of just being in the great outdoors—one 2020 study found that spending as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting led to reduced stress, anxiety and anger, and increased energy and positivity. When we put our face in water, our heart rate slows and our parasympathetic nervous system—which helps us relax—dials up. And early research suggests that just floating around can also boost feelings of serenity, happiness and overall well-being.