Not into gym? Fret not, pick a fun and exciting sport!

Many of us want to keep fit but find it rather intimidating to go to the gym. Some might also find it difficult to keep the motivation and spirit going when it comes to regular visits to the gym with somewhat monotonous and repetitive movements of these workouts and exercises. Fret not, The Fit Loco says you can pick a fun and exciting sport that you love and feel good!

Sports can be a Game Changer. Taking part in a sport can help us feel more confident, get fitter, healthier and even get mentally stronger. It can also be a fun, adrenaline-pumping activity, especially when u find the passion for it.

Personal Experience: How I started surfing and it became my hobby and passion…

¨I like surfing so much I don’t even think about the effort or energy I’m exerting in the sport.´

I started surfing when I was 14 years old in the south of Brazil. I was always attracted to the beach life and the ocean, and when I finally got on a board and caught my first wave, I knew it was something I will want to keep doing. 

Surfing has constantly pushed me to be better, and kept me active. It has enhanced my physical and psychological state tremendously and helped me in many ways to keep myself strong in life.

Even after so many years of surfing, it still makes me happy each time I jump on a surfboard. And its positively challenging and fun to notice how much I have improved and how much more I can improve. To confront the ocean and have the power to do it; when the body is fit, the mind stays strong too, and you feel like you can do anything.

For me, the most difficult thing about surfing is the determination to start the movement of paddling – I think everyone can relate to this, as all sports will prove to be challenging when you first begin. It may take a lot of your energy and willpower in the first 15 minutes. But with constancy, your body starts to get stronger, you’ll build stamina and you can then transform that into motivation for continuing the exercises; for me its the motivation of catching my next wave. 

I always feel good and energised in my mind and body, after surf sessions. As do all sports and physical activities, we may realise that we feel a sensation of ‘happiness’ in the aftermath. This is because your body produces chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain and discomfort. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.

Although surfing is a demanding sport, it was also the main reason I travelled around. Like any type of sports, surfing helps me to keep progressing and I always want to practice and get better. It became a lifestyle.

For anyone who feels inspired by my post and would like to give surfing or water board sports a go, I would like to share with you some important tips!

Surfing must-knows..

Surfing is not as easy as it looks. It is worth taking some lessons to give you the basics and hopefully get you up on your feet.

As surfing involves being in the ocean, first and foremost, you should be a strong swimmer and always be aware of the safety aspects. 

Having the right equipment is essential to get the best out of the surf. Your board should suit your body and your ability. For example, start with a long board as they are easier to stand up on, paddle and ride. Wear a wetsuit if necessary to keep you warm in the water long enough to learn.

Surfing provides many health benefits as it is a type of cardiovascular fitness activity. The main motion of paddling with your arms is a strength-conditioning and stamina work out – especially strength in your arms, shoulder and back. And the motion of standing up on your board works out your entire body – focusing on legs & core strength to keep you balanced and upright on the board! Moreover, waves are always unpredictable and there is no one wave alike; you can always expect a new, refreshing challenge every surf.

There are three main methods to use when you paddle your board in the water:

Arm paddling – this mainly involves your arms. You need to position your body towards the nose of the board, keep your feet together and paddle with your arms using a freestyle swimming action (alternating your arms).

Kick paddling – this mainly involves your legs. You need to slide your body to the back of the board so your legs are free to kick.

Combination arm and kick paddling – this involves using both methods, which will help you to move more quickly.

Other types of water-board sports to explore

Windsurfing

Windsurfing is one of the most beautiful sports. It combines the thrill of surfing, with the tranquility of sailing, and puts you in close contact with nature more closely than a ride. It is a sport that allows you to escape chasing the desire for solitude and to sail with hundreds of surfers in a truly unusual scenario. No other sport like windsurfing gives you the feeling of open spaces, between the beauty of nature that is as welcoming as it is sometimes wild.

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) or Stand up paddle surfing 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.

Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) offers a fun way to play on the water, with the added benefit of a full-body workout. And, since you stand at full height on your board, it gives you a unique vantage point for viewing what’s down under the water and out on the horizon.

Wakeboarding

A surface water sport which involves riding a wakeboard over the surface of a body of water. The wakeboard is a small, mostly rectangular, thin board with very little displacement and shoe-like bindings mounted to it. It was developed from a combination of water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing techniques.

Wakeboarding came onto the scene in the 1980s when surfers started hitching rides on boats with a rope, similar to waterskiing. The wakeboarding craze caught on, and surfers began to design actual wakeboards. These new types of boards maintained balance and steadiness, increased speed and power, and produced larger waves while being pulled by a motorboat. By the 1990s, wakeboarding became a recognized extreme sport and it developed a culture.

Bodyboarding

Another surface water sport that is somewhat similar to surfing. Simply put, bodyboarding is the art of riding waves while in a prone position (lying down on the board). This is very different from surfing where you’ll be in a standing position while riding the waves. Although bodyboarding is commonly known as riding waves in a prone position, other bodyboarding disciplines are also being practiced today, namely drop-knee and stand-up.

It is much faster to learn bodyboarding for beginners. In this sense, because you don’t have to worry about getting up and standing on the board, you can start bodyboarding right away even if you’re just learning.

Wakeskating

Wakeskating is a water sport and an adaptation of wakeboarding that employs a similar design of board manufactured from maple or fibreglass. Unlike wakeboarding, the rider is not bound to the board in any way,[1] similar to the skateboard, from which the name derives.

The rider plants his or her feet on the board and performs various tricks while being towed by a personal water craft. Depending on the boat, water conditions, and weight of the rider, a typical wakestater will achieve speeds between 10-20 miles per hour. If you are interested in this sport, you will need to invest in wakeskating shoes.

Wakesurfing

Wakesurfing is a water sport in which a rider trails behind a boat, riding the boat’s wake without being directly pulled by the boat.[1] After getting up on the wake, typically by use of a tow rope, the wakesurfers will drop the rope, and ride the steep face below the wave’s peak in a fashion reminiscent of surfing. Wakesurfers generally use special boards, designed specifically for wakes.

It is quite similar to surfing except for the fact that you can ride a never ending ‘wave’!

Why should everyone pick a favourite sport?

Image credit: Folio

In the current era, work takes up a lot of our time in a day and many of us neglect the importance of outside activities that are essential to stimulate our mind and body. And especially in a country like Singapore, work hours are long; we spend much time sitting in the office and not doing much physical activities, leading to Sedentary lifestyles.

Inactivity is described by the Department of Health as a “silent killer”. Evidence is emerging that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health. Not only should you try to raise your activity levels, but you should also reduce the amount of time you and your family spend sitting down.

Common examples of sedentary behaviour include watching TV, using a computer, using the car for short journeys and sitting down to read, talk or listen to music. This type of behaviour is thought to increase your risk of developing many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, as well as weight gain and obesity.

Hence, Sports plays a vital role in our lives. From young to old, many come together to partake in sports as a fun way to keep active and unwind.

Let us take a look at some benefits of taking up a favourite sport:

1. Better Sleep

Exercise and sport triggers chemicals in the brain that can make you feel happier and relaxed. It provides a chance to unwind and take part in an activity that improves your fitness. If you play sports outside, you can benefit from fresh air which is said to promote a good night’s sleep.

2. A Strong Heart

Your heart is a muscle and needs frequent exercise to help it keep fit and healthy. A healthy heart can pump blood efficiently around your body. Your heart will improve in performance when it is regularly challenged with exercise. Stronger hearts can improve overall health of the body.

3. Social Connections

Sport brings together a mixture of people from different communities, backgrounds, religions and beliefs. Sport can offer a new way to meet others that you may not interact with day to day. As a result, you can make new friends. And who knows, playing a sport might even open new career and business opportunities for you.

4. Improved Lung Function

Regular sport causes more oxygen to be drawn into the body with carbon monoxide and waste gases expelled. This increases the lung capacity during sport, improving lung function and efficiency.

5. Increased Confidence

By training frequently and working towards seasonal goals you can build your confidence and abilities. This is especially noticeable through tournaments and matches where you and your team put your skills to the test. Small, incremental achievements throughout the year can build personal confidence over time, giving you the ability to take on new projects and assignments at work with your new-found confidence.

6. Reduces Stress

When you are physically active your mind gets a chance to unplug from daily stresses and strains of life. Physical exercise reduces the stress hormones in your body and stimulates the release of endorphins. These endorphins may give you more energy and focus for whatever life has.

7. Improve Mental Health

Regular participation in sport and being active can also promote good mental health. This includes improving your mood, enhancing your sense of well-being, reducing anxiety, combating negative emotions and protecting against depression.

Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose. Our health is now suffering as a consequence. Whatever your age, there’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing many long-term (chronic) conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.

Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

For most people, the easiest way to get moving is to make activity part of everyday life, like walking or cycling instead of using the car to get around. However, the more you do, the better, and taking part in activities such as sports and exercise will make you even healthier.

For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to raise your heart rate, breathe faster and feel warmer. This level of effort is called moderate intensity activity. If you’re working at a moderate intensity you should still be able to talk but you won’t be able to sing the words to a song.

An activity where you have to work even harder is called vigorous intensity activity. There is substantial evidence that vigorous activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate activity. You can tell when it’s vigorous activity because you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

To stay healthy, adults should try to be active every day and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week through a variety of activities.

Picking up an active hobby: something that can be done in our everyday lifestyle

Picking an active hobby does not necessary mean you need to take dance lessons, learn surfing, or be a rockclimber. What it means is that you can find an interest that is already present in our daily lifestyles. Fret not, there are no treadmills or weight machines required.

You can be healthy without intensive workouts, Don’t just take my word for it—look to the longest-lived people in the world for proof. People in the places around the world with the highest life expectancy don’t always pump iron, run marathons or join gyms.

Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without even thinking about it. This means that they grow gardens, walk throughout the day, and minimise mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.

In fact, researchers determined that routine natural movement is one of the most impactful ways to increase your life span, and a common habit among the world’s longest-lived populations.

Of course this might not seem realistic in our current knowledge economy, where we’re often tied to a desk and in front of a computer screen all day.

If long walks aren’t your thing, break it up by taking several smaller walks per day instead (five minutes per hour). Make it a point to stand at your desk, or at least get up and move around regularly throughout the day. Get outside at lunch for some fresh air.

The bottom line is that our bodies were designed to move. And that doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym. You don’t need to lift heavy weights or grind through high intensity interval workouts to live a long and healthy life.

Setting Goals: Taking your passion a step further

Choosing something you enjoy will help. “If you don’t like something, you won’t give 100%,”

Have you decided that it’s time to make a change but aren’t sure how to get started? Or have you already set more goals for yourself than you care to admit-but keep failing to reach them? It’s time for a new way of thinking. 

No matter how big or small your goal-whether it’s losing 5 or 50 pounds, walking a mile or running your first marathon-making change requires planning and smart goal setting. 

Follow these guidelines to setting  goals and you will be surprised at what you can do:

1. Be Specific. Your goal should be clear and easy to understand. 

A common goal, “get healthy,” is too general. There are so many ways to get healthy. How do you want to do it? Is it losing weight? Start exercising? Stop smoking? Break it down and it will be easier to manage.

Let’s pick weight loss and make a goal out of it together. For example, “I will lose weight.” Or if it is to gain strength, then your goal should be: Be able to do 10 push-ups.

2. Measurable goals

A goal to “lose weight” is not enough. How will you track your progress and how you will know when you have reached your goal? Making your goal measurable means adding a number. For example, I will lose 1KG by the end of March.

3. Attainable goals.

Before you can add a number, you have to know how high or low you want to go. It’s good to ‘shoot for the stars’, but don’t be too extreme. Likewise, a goal that is too easy is also not very motivating. Only you know your limits. 

Let’s take our goal above. What percentage is attainable for you? Research suggests that a 5-10% weight loss is attainable for most overweight people. A measurable, attainable goal could be, “I will lose 7% of my body weight.” 

4. Being Relevant.

Set goals that are important to where you are in your life right now. Don’t set a goal that someone else is pressuring you to attain-that isn’t very motivating.

Examine our goal so far. Does it seem relevant to you? If so, let’s keep going. If you are not concerned about weight loss or this is not a good time in your life to focus on that, choose something that IS motivating to you. 

5. Time-bound.

Include an end-point. Knowing that you have a deadline motivates you to get started. Since healthy weight loss is about 1-2 pounds per week, set your deadline accordingly. For our example we can use 3 months. “I will lose 7% of my body weight in 3 months.”

Now we have a goal! With a goal like this, it’s a good idea to set a few more action-oriented goals so that you have a game plan. Here are a few examples:

I will walk 5 days every week for 30 minutes each.
I will drink water instead of soda every day this week.
I will bring my lunch to work instead of eating out 4 days this week.

Becoming a better version of you starts by being smart, and being goal oriented. Start by planning small goals to reach bigger goals!

See more on Motivation…

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