Is the cold weather making your mind wander to warmer climes?
It’s a summer holiday time-honoured tradition to lie out in the sun until the heat becomes too much and cooling off in the sea. But why not upgrade your swim for water sports?
Recent evidence has demonstrated that, compared with exercising indoors, outdoor activity results in a significantly greater improvement in mental wellbeing.
Feeling more connected to nature, cleaner air, and providing a significant vitamin-D boost means ocean-based activities can lead to improved mood, self-esteem and higher energy levels.
Activity holiday specialists Neilson Holidays wanted to find out exactly how we best like to embrace the sea and revealed the top 10 most Instagrammed water sports in Europe.
Far and away the most popular water sport, surfing was a central part of ancient Polynesian culture and dates back as far as the mid 18th century.
Easy to try but fiendishly difficult to master, nothing beats the feeling of successfully surfing your first wave.
It’s also a fantastic cardiovascular workout and, since a large part of surfing involves paddling, you get a great core and upper body workout.
You’ll need to be sporty to try this one; bringing together elements of snowboarding, wakeboarding, windsurfing, paragliding, skateboarding and gymnastics, kitesurfing is a thrilling variation of surfing using a standard surfboard and a kite which catches the air whilst you catch the waves.
Because you have to constantly make quick decisions about the movement and position of the bar and board in relation to your body, it’s a tough mental work out too.
3. Stand-up paddle boarding
For a more gentle and relaxed way to try water sports, try stand-up paddle boarding, also known as SUP.
Using a paddle to propel yourself through the water, SUP not only offers a full body workout but has also been found to help reduce stress due to the soothing process of gliding through the water coupled with the rhythm of your stroke.
Straddling both the laid-back culture of surfing and the rules-based technicality of sailing, windsurfing is a high-octane pursuit full of jumps, inverted loops and spins.
In fact it’s so exhilarating that you hardly know you’re exercising. According to the Royal Yachting Association, the average windsurfer spends up to six hours each day exercising without even realising it.
Being towed behind a motorboat at speeds of up to 25mph whilst strapped to a thin, rectangular board takes some beating in the adrenaline stakes.
Wakeboarding will strengthen your arms and legs but is also just really good fun.
Sure, you’ll not be able to swim to great depths like you would if you were diving, but there’s a freedom in the simplicity of snorkelling – after all, you only need a snorkel, some flippers and a mask.
Try it out and you might be surprised by just how much marine life there is to be seen from the surface.
If you really want to get deep under the sea and feel at one with the water, diving is the one for you.
Lucky divers have been known to have seen turtles and whales while exploring under the surface.
8. Jet skiing
Out of all the water sports to try, jet skiing by far looks the coolest.
Channel your inner Bond as you zoom across the water.
Bodyboarding is another great option for water sports beginners and is another one which came from Polynesian culture, with Captain Cook recording seeing Hawaiians riding similar boards in 1778.
It’s not too different from surfing - instead of standing on the board, you lie on it.
While you could spend years learning all the cool tricks, it’s just as fun running into the waves and riding them back into shore with no real technique.
The best thing about kayaking is that if you try it on holiday and like it, you can definitely take it up when you come back to the UK.
Often confused with canoeing, in a kayak you’ll have a paddle with blades on both ends.
While it’s great fun in the sun, it was actually originated by the Inuit of the Arctic regions.
It’s a versatile sport too – adrenaline junkies can test their skill in white water, or for a more sedate experience you can have a gentle paddle across still seas.
What are your favourite water sports? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Photo credit: Tom Nicholson/REX/Shutterstock