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Be Well, Move Happy: Learning a New Skill and Water Sports

Old dogs can learn new tricks! Sara Whatley shares her thoughts on learning new skills, and water sports to keep you cool

Looking to shake up the old, tired routine? Perhaps you feel you are not reaching your full potential, or there is simply some time and space in your life to fill. Whatever the reason, learning a new skill can be a really beneficial thing to do for yourself. And in the warmth of the summer, that new thing might even be a water sport.


I once read a piece by author and journalist Oliver Burkeman about setting yourself realistic goals when actively honing something in your life. His
was a three-month strategy – three months concentrating on finances say, then three months on learning Spanish or whatever it is you fancy – rather than trying to cram in everything all at the same time.

Could this approach be used learning a new skill? Absolutely! Try something out for three months and if you really don’t get on with it simply move to the next thing.

Learning new skills in life is vital at any age. When we are very young we learn new skills everyday but as adults the learning can plateau and we fall into the rut of stasis. Learning new skills pushes us forward, awakens the senses and brings unknown opportunities. It also builds confidence. Stepping into a new cookery class is daunting, and requires us to move outside of our comfort zones. But this is where the learning begins; your brain is making new connections, forming new neurons and strengthening existing neural pathways.

There are many other positive attributes to learning new skills: meeting new people, progressing your career, enhancing your later life or retirement, discovering a new hobby and possibly turning that into a small business, or saving yourself money by learning DIY, for example.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up to the drama society, enrol on the computer course, get your taste buds tingling for the wine tasting master class – whatever you do, learn something new.


Did you choose water sports as your new skill to learn? Fantastic, this is the perfect time of year to take the plunge and get into the water. Water sports is a very broad term and covers a huge array of activities. Some are better known, some less so (underwater football anyone?) but the great thing is there are activities to suit all intensity levels and requirements.

There are three categories we can use to define water sports: sports on water, sports in water, and sports under water. On water you will find all forms of boating, sailing, and rafting, as well as many types of fishing. Boarding comes in many styles, including surf and paddleboarding, wind and wake surfing, and at opposite ends of the adrenalin scale there is water skiing or stone skipping.

Many sports can be done in the water. Swimming is the most obvious, but it includes lots of variations such as synchronised swimming, rescue swimming and finswimming,  where the swimmer wears fins (otherwise known as flippers), or a monofin, and snorkel.

Aqua aerobics is a very popular sport to do in the water as it is supportive, low- impact and fun, but the water resistance turns it into a jolly good workout. Other sports to do in the water include water polo, water volleyball or for endurance try a triathlon.

And finally sports to do underwater include snorkelling and the many different types of diving, as well as many sports that we see played on the ground. These include underwater football, rugby, hockey, orienteering, and wrestling. Even underwater target shooting is a sport!

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