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A beach holiday isn’t all just sunbathing and sand; being on the coast gives you the opportunity to try different heart racing water activities.

Gary Sinclair, watersports activity manager for Neilson holidays explains the benefits of the most popular watersports you can try on holiday, explaining how they’ll give both your mind and body a workout.

Dinghy Sailing – best for practical thinkers

What is it?

Simply put dinghy sailing involves a small open boat with a sail which is used to harness the power of the wind, to move you through the water.  Some dinghies are designed for speed and exhilaration, while others are better for learning and more relaxed sailing. You can sail on inland waters such as lakes and reservoirs or take to the open seas at home or abroad on warm blue seas.

What muscles it works

Sailing requires balancing the boat with your weight and it will definitely improve the strength in your leg and core stability muscles, especially as you start hiking out of the boat. With a lot of pulling in ropes for the sails it will also improve your upper body strength.

Calories burned an hour

400 if racing

Other benefits

  • Mental workout – Dinghy sailing will help boost your brain power as you get to grips with wind directions, and reacting to changes in conditions and manoeuvring the equipment accordingly.
  • Adrenaline thrill – Dinghy sailing can be as fast or leisrely as you like and if you’re an adrenaline junkie you can race along at fantastic speed, a real thrill especially when you have to be aware of the elements around you.

Why Gary likes dinghy sailing: Dinghy sailing is a great sport if you’re looking for something that involves some athletic ability and tactical awareness – and a very strong social element. Racing is a fantastic way to improve your technique and it’s a mental challenge too, little like chess on water with lots of tactics involved! As such it is really suited to people who want to challenge themselves against the elements in a more stable and dry environment (you can get very wet on windier days though!).”

Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) – best if you’re short on time

What is it?

Stand up paddleboarding (or SUP for short) is an offshoot of surfing that originated in Hawaii. Unlike traditional surfing where the rider sits until a wave comes, stand up paddle boarders stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water.

What muscles it works

SUP is another watersport that offers a total body workout. In the first and second phrase of the stroke you hinge at the hip, leaning and reaching forward with almost straight arms away from the body. The muscles that are working here are the hand extensors, the anterior and medial deltoids, the biceps, the obliques, the hip flexors and the muscles of the lower leg and foot for stabilization.

In the third phase of the stroke where you uncoil or unwind to a full stand up position the hand flexors, the posterior deltoids, the latissimus dorsi, the pectoralis minor, the triceps, all of the abdominal muscles, the hip extensors and the muscles of the lower leg and foot.

Calories burned an hour

615-708 

Other benefits

  • Improves balance – Standup paddleboarding requires you to stand upright on the board, which requires a lot of core stability and leg strength to maintain balance. This not only helps you have a good balance while paddle boarding but increases your focus and balance in day-to-day activities as well
  • Low impact – Standup paddling is a very low impact exercise. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will do damage to the tendons and ligaments of your joints. Paddle boarding is particularly useful for runners that are experiencing shin splints or knee and hip pain, yet still need a good exercise whilst recovering
  • Combination with other workouts – Yoga and paddle boarding are a perfect combo as yoga can be very spiritual and using the paddleboard adds an extra dimension of balance to the activity. This can be a lot of fun as well as very challenging for someone who is already an experienced practitioner of yoga.
  • Better for your back – If surfing used to be your sport or you have back issues that you thin would stop you from SUPping, think again. SUPping involves starting from a kneeling position and getting up to a standing position which is recommended by physical therapists for surfers

Why Gary likes SUP: The best thing about SUP is that it’s so easy and quick to get out onto the water and there are so many varieties on the sport, you can do SUP tours to explore an coastline, you can race them, you can do yoga and fitness exercises with them or just take them out for a leisurely paddle with friends - they are even pet friendly! It’s a great social activity to get friends involved, especially those who wouldn’t normally fancy doing watersports. It’s perfect if you’re limited on time as well as it’s so easy to set up and get going – anyone can try it, you just need a Just need a sense of adventure and a willingness to fall in the water sometimes!”

credit: Neilson Holidays

Water Ski – best for fun thrill-seeking groups

What is it?

First conceived of in 1922 by an 18 year old who posited the idea that ‘if you could ski on snow, why not on water?’ water skiing is a watersport where the ‘skier’ is pulled behind a powerboat via a ski rope, zipping atop the water on one or two skis. Beginners generally learn on double skis, then progress to a single ski.

What muscles it works

It’s a total body workout. There’s a misconception that waterskiing is all about the lower body, but it actually uses every muscle in your body. It works core muscles, arm muscles, leg muscles, and all the muscles around them. It’s also a lot safer than using free weights which can strain your muscles, and they don’t even work the whole body.

Calories burned an hour

Around 400

Other benefits

  • Easy on the joints - Waterskiing uses just about every muscle in the body without wearing down joints because it is all body weight resistance in free range of motion
  • Meditative - Being on the water, much like in sailing can have a calming effect on the mind and forces you to focus on the task at hand, forgetting about the day to day stresses and worries. Not to mention that the endorphins from being active will keep you happy and healthy
  • Promotes strong legs – tones up your legs fast. They absorb the energy of crossing the bumpy wake behind the boat, control your direction and are bent in a half-squat throughout, giving you particularly strong quads
  • Great family activity – Because waterskiing always involves more than one person (a skier, a driver and a spotter) it is a really good watersport to get the whole family involved, encouraging people to partner up and learn to ski together.

Why Gary likes waterskiing: “I would recommend this sport as a summer activity to anyone who loves skiing and snowboarding. You don’t have to ski you could wake board or wake surf – and many beaches now have cable parks which brings the costs down and makes it much more accessible compared to hiring a boat. It’s a really social sport, either on a lakes or in the sea, a great way to catch a tan, it looks cool and it’s (almost) as fun to watch your friends doing it is as it is having a go yourself. This is perfect for thrill seekers and people who like to push themselves to learn something new. Physically, it will improve core balance as it uses all the muscles in your body, buy my favourite thing is the banter with your friends, the pressure is on to perform! If you love winter sports this is the next best thing to getting your fix.

Windsurfing – best for people with patience

What is it?

Windsurfing is a watersport that combines elements of surfing and sailing. The sport emerged in California in the 1960s using a modified surfboard with a movable mast.  Windsurfers stand upright on a 2.5-3 metre long board, controlling the sail with their hands to catch the wind and manoeuvre through the water. 

What muscles it works

  • The muscles of the upper legs and hips; the gluteals, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps
  • The muscles of the lower leg; the gastrocnemius, the soleus and the anterior tibialis
  • The core muscles; the rectus abdominus, obliques and the spinal erectors
  • The muscles of the shoulder girdle; the latissimus dorsi, the teres major, and the deltoids

Calories burned an hour

Around 1000 calories an hour for an expert windsurfer but recreational windsurfers probably burn around 500 calories an hour

Other benefits

  • Mental benefits – there’s nothing quite like being on the water beneath the sun on a beautiful, warm day! If you’re out on a sunny day you’ll also soak up some vitamin D which is known to combat depression
  • Cardiovascular – windsurfing is an amazing cardiovascular exercise because it requires the use of several of your bodies major muscle groups
  • Even beginners get a great workout – novices might spend half of their time in the water, but this is all part of the workout. Falling off the board means you are constantly pulling yourself out of the water which works your arms and increases your calorie output
  • Doesn’t feel like exercise – Travelling up to 20 miles per hour on your windsurf is so exhilarating you hardly know you’re exercising. This means you’re likely to stick at it for longer and burn up more calories than in the gym.

Why Gary likes windsurfing: “If you’re a water baby windsurfing is for you because you will get wet. This is perfect for improving fitness and water confidence, it’s also a watersport that you can do by yourself. There is nothing like the exhilaration of gliding across the water using the wind as propulsion, and peaceful too as there are no engine noises, just the sound of board skimming across the water. Windsurfing gives you a massive sense of freedom, when you’ve mastered it you can travel great distances in a short amount of time. One of my favourite things about wind surfing is the camaraderie out on the water, everyone’s looking out for each other and pushing you to improve. When you first learn to windsurf it can seem really challenging, you will be falling in the water a lot (if you’re not you’re not trying hard enough!), but it can feel frustrating at times pulling sails out of the water. You will need patience and a positive attitude to master it, but trust me, the reward of blasting across the bay is something else!” 



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