Fitness Finds: Hit the Water

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May has beautiful weather, but it’s still a little too chilly to dive straight into the Hudson River. However, New York City offers several fun ways to enjoy the aquatic scenery and simultaneously get a great weekend workout. Manhattan offers city residents a variety of local kayaking and canoeing options that keep them on the water but relatively warm and dry.

Kayaking and canoeing provide substantial physical and mental benefits to the body. The proper paddling techniques involves every upper body muscle and helps tone the back, chest, abdominals and arms. Gliding along the water’s tranquil surface and serving as the craft’s propeller works wonders when it comes to much-needed stress relief. Depending on your paddling speed and body composition, you can burn up to 400 calories per hour when kayaking or canoeing.

Never kayaked before? Not a problem. The New York City Downtown Boathouse offers a free kayaking program that only requires participants to know how to swim. Starting in mid-May, kayaks, life jackets and paddles are available for rent for 20 minutes at a time. Walk up to Pier 40, Pier 96 and West 72nd Street at any time on the weekends to test the waters.

If you are looking for a self-guided, untimed tour of New York City’s waterways, the New York City Parks and Recreation Department offers a wide variety of canoeing and kayaking launch sites around the perimeters of each borough that anyone can use with a permit. The Parks Department is also offering free community events this weekend, so a lack of permit will not prevent you from hitting the water.

The Amazing Flotilla

Saturday, May 11
11 a.m. to  4 p.m.

Join the community paddling and guided estuary trips in celebration of Starlight Park, the newest park addition along the Bronx River Greenway.

Basic Canoeing

Sunday, May 12
1 p.m.

Park rangers will guide a group through a series of protected lakes, open rivers and bays on canoes. This event serves all skill levels and meets at the Audubon Center at the Boathouse in Prospect Park.

Alena Hall is a contributing writer. Email her at features@nyunews.com.

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