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How Sailing Can be a Workout

May 19, 2016 by HealthyFamiliesBC

Fitness on a sailboat

With warmer weather rolling in I’ve noticed more sailboats on the water while on my morning runs. It looks really peaceful. Imagine it: you at the helm, the boat slicing through the water with the sunrise. Being curious I set off on a quest to learn the physical activity benefits of sailing; here’s what I found.

Always wear a lifejacket, carry appropriate emergency gear and stay within your ability level. You must follow the rules of sailing and be prepared with the skills and equipment to safely enjoy sailing.

Sailing is a sport that will work many aspects of physical fitness:

  • Core and muscle strength: Pulling on lines, hiking your boat, and maneuvering the rudder will all help develop core strength and general muscle strength. If you want a few sailing specific exercises, try partial crunches, squats, and single arm rows.
  • Aerobic fitness: If you’re on a relatively small sailboat, you will constantly be on the move doing things like adjusting the sails and moving from port to starboard. Do additional aerobic activity (cycling, hiking, dancing) to build up more stamina for when you next leave the dock.
  • Balance and agility: Manoeuvering around the boat and its tight quarters and finding your sea legs will all help improve your balance. Get a head start by trying activities like Tai Chi or balance exercises, to help prevent “spontaneous” swims!

Remember, safety is paramount. If you are new to sailing, join a sailing club, take lessons or go with an experienced friend.

Also, let’s not underestimate the benefits of simply being outside on the water. Being on a sail boat (or other types of boats like kayaking and canoeing) is a great way to connect with nature, have fun with friends, or challenge yourself.

Related blogs

Unleash Your Inner Dragon This Summer
Reasons to Try Canoeing and Kayaking

Recommended resources

BC Sailing Association: Learn to Sail
Sailing Canada: Sailing Programs



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