While kayaking might not seem like the typical total-body workout, it definitely deserves a spot on this list. Paddling is one of the best cardio-strength training combinations out there. If you’re looking to tone your legs, arms and core, take a break from the gym and rent a kayak.
Water polo players are constantly alternating between treading water and high intensity sprints—a combination that creates an effective full body workout. Organize a casual game or compete in a league and enjoy the benefits of this tough workout while you’re distracted by your competitive side.
Windsurfing is anything but a typical sport and the physical benefits are exceptional, too. Balancing on the board improves core strength and directing the sail targets muscles in the upper body from forearms down through the lower back. As you improve on the board, windsurfing becomes a great cardio workout. But even if you’re a beginner spending most of the time falling off the board, repeatedly pulling yourself out of the water and back onto the board is a workout in itself.
While most divers will say that scuba diving is more of a leisurely hobby and less of an intense workout, it can be a bit of both. All that equipment can weigh upwards of 50 lbs. and powering yourself through a long dive can be strenuous. Ultimately, you set the pace and can make diving an awesome workout.
Balance and stability is the key to mastering this popular Hawaiian water sport, which means your core is working hard the whole time. Similar to kayaking, paddling while standing can be a great cardio and strength workout for the whole body.
This sport might be hard to master, but once you've got it wakeboarding is a great workout. Challenge and tone your legs, core and arms while maintaining balance and add tricks to your routine when you improve. Wakeboarding is another water sport that doesn’t feel like a workout, it just feels like summer fun.
Swimming will always be a favorite summer activity and one of the most efficient total-body workouts around. The resistance of the water is great for building strength and picking up the pace makes for fantastic cardio. If you needed just one more benefit, it’s virtually impact-free, meaning the risk for stress injury is far less than that of frequent runners or weight lifters.
Some have said that surfing is the original “total-body workout” and, frankly, it’s hard to disagree. From the upper body strength it takes to paddle out to the balance it takes to ride waves, every aspect of surfing tests your whole body in strength, agility and stamina.