Water sports are an excellent way to cool off in the summer and build your physical fitness. While some require advanced skills, many do not, making them perfect for novices. Consider dipping your toes in and giving these water sports a whirl—you’ll be glad you did!
If you haven’t already, you should take the time to learn how to swim before participating in any other water sport. Doing so can both put you more at ease in the water and benefit your overall fitness—it’s an excellent low-impact workout that will help boost your strength and lung capacity without putting much stress on your joints.
Luckily, swimming is a simple sport to get into. After all, you don’t have to be Michael Phelps to tread water, float on your back, and swim basic strokes. Two of the easiest ones for beginners include the breaststroke and the sidestroke since you can keep your head above the water for both. To get started, look into taking lessons at a local YMCA or pool, or watch online tutorials for tips.
Don’t be fooled into thinking snorkeling is only suitable for tropical locales with crystal-clear seas. Local lakes and rivers can also provide interesting snorkeling opportunities—you may be able to glimpse freshwater fish, amphibians, and a whole host of other wildlife. Simply grab a snorkel and swim mask and dip your face in the water to immerse yourself in this one-of-a-kind experience. You may even find your stress floating away; snorkeling has been shown to have stress-relieving and therapeutic benefits.
Bodysurfing and bodyboarding
Bodysurfing is a thrilling way to enjoy the surf and sand and ride the ocean waves. It’s much like traditional surfing, except you don’t need to balance atop a surfboard and it’s much easier to learn. In fact, all you need to get started are a swimsuit and some waves, though it’s best to stick to shallow waters while first learning the sport because ocean tides can be strong and swift. The more you develop your skills, the more you can push yourself with bigger waves. And as a bonus, you’ll find the strength of your arms, legs, and core improving as well.
Another option is to surf the waves on a bodyboard. Once you’ve mastered riding your board on your stomach, you could try standing on it—just be sure that it’s strong and long enough to support your body. Also, remember to use a board with a leash that you can tether to your arm or leg so you won’t have to swim a long distance to recover your board or get back to shore.
For an even simpler way to go boarding, hop on a paddleboard. Also called stand-up paddleboards (SUPs), these boards allow you to stand or kneel while paddling; either way, they’re an excellent way to build strength and endurance. Learning how to balance on one can take time, so you might want to start on your knees and practice falling away from your board to prevent injury. Also, remember to tether your board to your leg to avoid having to chase it each time. For the equipment, there are inflatable paddleboards you can purchase that are lighter and easier to transport than standard SUPs, making them especially good options for novice paddlers.
River tubing and rafting
If you like the idea of gliding on a current, give river tubing a try. All you need to do is get yourself a tube, which you can rent from a local outfitter or purchase yourself, put it in the water, and hop on. Newcomers to the sport may want to consider going on an excursion with an experienced guide—water conditions can be safe one day and dangerous the next depending on the river’s water level. But whether your river tubing adventure is exhilarating or relaxing, you’ll get to experience the health benefits of communing with the outdoors.
Of course, if swift and choppy waters do appeal to you, you could always go white water rafting instead. Just be prepared to get an excellent workout paddling through the choppy and fast-moving waters. You could either go on your own excursion or book a trip with a licensed white water rafting pro who can provide you with the necessary gear and help you navigate the waters.
Kayaking and canoeing
River tubing and white water rafting are perfect for cooling off on a hot summer’s day. But if you’re looking for a gentler ride, you might prefer to use a kayak or canoe, which could give you all the physical benefits of paddling without getting you too wet. Consider renting a watercraft before investing in one of your own, as they can get pricey. Should you opt to buy, you could get an entry-level canoe for less than $1,500 or a light, easy-to-transport, and surprisingly durable inflatable kayak for just over $100.
For your first excursion, pick a small lake or pond—both are ideal for beginners since they are less likely to have strong currents or powerboat traffic, which can cause safety hazards for paddlers. Boating in a location popular with other kayakers and canoers is also a safer option than paddling alone in case your boat does capsize.
Whether you swim, surf, or paddle, water sports are a delightful way to get your body moving and enjoy a summer’s day!