You can paddle your way to fitness with rowing and canoeing. These are lifetime activities that can be enjoyed at any age. Many of the people who take part in these activities think of them as fun, recreational exercises done in nature’s backyard, and it is possible to derive an excellent workout from both.
How to Get Started
Before you go on the water, strengthen your abdominals and shoulders and work on increasing your flexibility. Preparing your body before you start will give you a more enjoyable and beneficial workout.
- Indoors or outdoors, rowing is a demanding but very safe activity. It exercises most of the large muscle groups without stressing the joints.
- Since you’re seated during rowing and recreational canoeing there is no impact on the feet; therefore, the injury rate for both is relatively low. If you experience lower back pain, the repetitive twisting of rowing or spinal flexing and extending of rowing may be too stressful for your back.
- When exercising on water always wear a PFD (personal flotation device, a lifejacket). Many club rowers and paddlers do not wear flotation devices as it impedes movement. However, coach boats go out on the water to supervise water safety when this is the case.
- Pace yourself. Rowing can be a demanding activity. Monitor your heart rate at regular intervals to be sure you are working comfortably within your target heart rate zone.
- Rowing shorts, although not a necessity, offer slight padding for your seat and make a long workout more comfortable.
- Close fitting, waist-length shirts are less likely to get caught on the rowing monorail or to interfere with your arm movements.
- To row safely and competently, you need to fully understand the four key components to the basic rowing stroke: the catch, the drive, the finish and the recovery. If you are a new rower, ask a fitness professional at your facility to teach you the basics or seek advice from a club coach.
- To paddle safely and to propel your canoe in the right direction, learn the basic paddling strokes. They include: the forward bow stroke, the bow back stroke, the bow sweep, the J-stroke, the stern rudder and the stern pry & draw. Community colleges and recreation facilities usually offer courses where you can learn these strokes and more. You can also join a canoeing club.
- Rowing is a total-body exercise. Be sure to emphasize the use of the legs for power production. Beginners often focus on pulling mainly with their upper body. However, when you include leg action you can ensure that you are utilizing your aerobic energy system and deriving all the associated benefits.
- Recreational canoeing is not normally considered an aerobic activity because you don’t use the large muscles in the lower body. But if you belong to a canoe club, the technique you will use for war canoe, C-4, C-2 and C-1 boats require you to kneel. This technique involves your legs and buttocks, making it an aerobic activity. Rowing and canoeing clubs across the country provide non-competitive and competitive programs, so don’t be nervous about joining. Everyone, from youngsters to people over 65, at various fitness levels, enjoy these activities, or you just might like rowing in the comfort of your home in front of your television.
Water skiing is a sport where an individual, or more than one individual is pulled behind a motor boat on a body of water while wearing one or more skis. The surface area of the ski or skis keeps the person skimming on the surface of the water allowing the skier to stand upright while holding the tow rope.
Water skiing usually begins with a deep water start. The skier crouches down in the water (knees bent/arms straight), with the ski tips pointing up and the ski rope between the skis. When the skier is ready, the driver gives the boat the required amount of force to pull the skier out of the water. The key to getting up is patiently staying in the crouched position, letting the boat create enough force against the ski to pull you out of the water. Common mistakes are trying to stand up too early and breaking the chair, straight backed, bent knees position. Getting up out of the water requires strength, skill and balance; staying up also requires strength and balance, but it also requires endurance too. Water skiing is a great way to spend a hot summer day, and you will be having so much fun that it won’t feel like exercise.
A Jet Ski is a recreational water-craft that the rider sits or stands on, rather than inside of, as in a boat. Models have an inboard engine driving a pump jet that has a screw-shaped impeller to create thrust for propulsion and steering. Jet Skis are widely used for recreation because of their relatively low cost and the freedom they give to owners. Jet Skis are fast and easy to tip, so balance is required!