It’s definitely Summer….and boy is it a hot one! It’s time to take advantage of the long days and warm temperatures to break out of your old workout habits and take it to the lake, river, or sandy beach of your choice. Summer is, after all, about having fun and enjoying time with your family and friends. But there’s no reason that has to mean spending all day lazing on a beach towel or beach chair indulging yourself with yummy fruits, and cheese and biscuits and drinking beer, ciders or wine.
Why not cut loose and try one of these outdoor activities? They’re all excellent workouts, and great fun to share with other people. Just keep in mind that whenever you’re planning on spending time in both sun and water, a good waterproof sun cream is a must and a sun shirt on your children
Whether you have access to an ocean, a lake, or a pool, water exercise is easy on your joints and bones while still excellent for muscle tone and aerobic conditioning. Water offers a whole different kind of resistance to a body that’s accustomed to moving on land. While impact is pretty much non-existent with water exercise, every move takes a lot more energy, and consequently burns a lot more calories. Even at a leisurely pace, you use twice as many calories swimming as you do walking.
- Swimming… Swimming is fun and a great workout. At an ocean or lake or beaches with swim buoys, try swimming out to the buoy line, then following it parallel to the beach. Alternate your pace, switching from fast to slow every other buoy. After you’ve swum far enough, swim back in and jog back up the beach to your towel. It’s also really fun to pick a challenging distance swim and do it with a group of friends.
You can do this at an ocean beach by swimming out to a distant buoy, around a pier, or any other point that’s a workable distance away. For safety, I recommend having a friend paddle along with you on a kayak or paddleboard, both to be there if anyone gets a little tired and fatigued, and also to make your presence more obvious to boat traffic.
- Bodysurfing…. Bodysurfing is also great because it’s got a low learning curve but never ceases to be fun. There’s always some new or challenging variation to enjoy. Choose a stretch of beach with waves that break cleanly, and without any big rocks or other hazards. You’ll want a good pair of bodysurfing fins (most snorkeling fins are too big and tend to come off) to give you the acceleration and power to get into the waves. If you’ve never done it before, here are the basics:
- Swim out to the peak—the area where the waves stand up and break.
- Tread water to get a good view of what’s coming and choose a wave that’s about to break, not one that already has.
- As it begins to roll under you, put your head down, kick like crazy and do a few crawl strokes with your arms. You’ll feel your body begin to accelerate until suddenly you’re flying through the water.
- At this point, you can use your palms as a planing surface and get your head up to see where you’re going. The wave will either die out or spit you out.
- Repeat until you’ve had enough fun.
- Backyard water polo… Next time you’re at a pool party, organize a casual game of backyard water polo between friends. If you don’t have an actual water polo ball, and most of us don’t, a kids’ rubber ball is the next best thing, or a slightly deflated volleyball. Set up goals at both ends of the pool, using patio chairs or a couple of empty coolers tipped sideways. The rules of real water polo are overly complicated, but for our purposes just think soccer in the water. You’re not allowed to stand on the bottom, and once you pick up the ball with a hand you have to either pass or shoot. Between treading water and sprinting up and down the pool, your muscles and aerobic capacity will get worked much harder than just swimming a few laps. Play to 20 and switch ends when the first team gets to 10.
Land of Sand!!
Let’s go back to the beach and look at another unfamiliar environment that offers a great workout opportunity: deep, soft sand. Whether you run, walk, or play soccer, doing any athletic activity in deep sand enormously increases your level of exertion. If you normally run 6km on hard ground, 3km of soft sand will have you panting. At our local beaches, it’s a great work out by doing an alternating interval jog/sprint at each lifeguard tower or beach access. Each soft sand sprint will get your heart rate up and taking deep breaths. During the next interval make it an easy jog or even a walk to cool you off a bit, and let your heart rate slow back down.
- Beach volleyball… Professional beach volleyball players all seem to be ripped, tan, and about 7 feet tall. Now I can’t help you with the tall part, but play beach volleyball regularly and the ripped and tan part comes with the territory.The key here is constant dynamic motion, which builds balance and core strength, combined with vertical jumps and leaps that give your legs and glutes explosive strength. If you don’t have a net handy, just volley with a friend for 15 or 20 minutes, trying to keep the ball in the air as long as possible while constantly increasing the distance between the two of you. When the ball falls, step closer together and start over again.
- Dune Running….Find a sand dune nearby your home (Kawana beach has a few small ones) and go for it. And on the way down let your body just leap down as quick as you can! With the muscle and aerobic workout going up and the sheer joy of bounding down, there’s just nothing better. There are dunes all over the world’s coastlines and deserts—what are you waiting for?
Get moving this Summer and enjoy the Outdoors