with Heather Hawk
Healthy Planet Fitness Writer

Sweet Summertime

Many of us are heading to the pool, the beach, or the lake for summertime activities. Water is the perfect destination for summer fun as well as for summer fitness. The water offers a variety of exercise options that are exhilarating, challenging, and a wonderful alternative (or addition) to your current workout regimen. From swimming, canoeing and kayaking to surfing, wake boarding, or water skiing (my personal favorite), there is a water activity for all interests.

Before relaxing by the pool, hit the water for a swim. Swimming is an outstanding total body exercise. You will not only work the cardiovascular system but also strengthen the body and burn calories. When swimming you use your upper body, your core, and your lower body…therefore the “total” body workout.

In order to work the body you don’t have to be a former competitive swimmer or have the most elegant stroke. Simply get in the water and go. You can swim laps, you can use a kick board and kick across the pool, or you can hold onto the edge of the pool and kick as well to tighten and tone the lower body. Treading water is another challenging option for targeting the entire body.
If at first you find you’re unable to swim for a significant amount of time, don’t be discouraged. Begin with 5-10 minutes and gradually increase the duration with each session. You can also choose to swim in intervals. For example swim for 3-5 minutes then rest for 2-3 minutes. Repeat this cycle several times. Alternating strokes between freestyle and breaststroke (even side stroke and backstroke) can help lengthen your sessions by hitting different muscles. I’m the perfect example of a non-swimmer who reaped the benefits. After our second daughter was born I decided to challenge myself with swimming. At first I could only swim 6-8 laps continuously. However, I gradually worked up to 1 mile without stopping…and my body changed dramatically for the better.
Depending upon the stroke you choose, your speed, and of course your body type, you can burn between 450 and 900 calories an hour. On average, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, and snorkeling can burn 300 to 500 calories an hour.

Hit the water as a family to encourage active play. Toss the beach ball, search for dive toys in the water or play a game of Marco Polo. Remember that the water is not only the perfect place to stay cool but also to spice up everyone’s summer exercise program. Plus, most water sports can be lifelong family activities. Whether you are staying in St. Louis or heading to a vacation destination, take advantage of the pools, lakes, and ocean for your summer fitness.
Got a fitness or health question for Heather? Email info@hawkonhealth.com.

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