Bored with your usual workout? Keen to maintain your physical activity levels? Why not try something new? Kitesurfing may well be the answer, and it’s not as difficult as you might think.
Keeping active and getting regular exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but can prevent your blood pressure rising as you age and in turn keeping your health in check. But to keep your blood pressure low, you need to keep exercising on a regular basis.
Always heading to the gym, doing the same loop on your run outdoors, and even playing football with the same friends can all become a bit humdrum. So why not make it fun at the same time and try varying your sports by adding a shot of adrenaline?
What is kitesurfing? Well, it’s a wind-powered surface watersport that uses a kite and a board to move across the water – usually the sea, but any large body of water can work, lakes and rivers included. It uses the power of the wind through a large parachute-type kite to propel a rider at speed across the water on a small surfboard or a kiteboard (similar to a wakeboard).
It’s even one of Sir Richard Branson’s hobbies – as a man in his 60s, his passion for the sport shows this is one for any age. The Virgin founder has become the oldest person to kitesurf across the Channel. Now, while we’re not suggesting you attempt this feat, the man himself has said how easy and safe it is, stating in an interview with The Telegraph: ‘I haven’t had any major accidents and nowadays kitesurfing is much safer. I think people exaggerate about how difficult it is; you can learn to do it in five hours.’
So that’s the myth that you have to be young to kitesurf busted! However, if you are considering taking up a new sport or physical activity, make sure you do so safely. You can measure your blood pressure at home using Braun’s Blood Pressure Monitors to determine if you should seek medical advice prior to engaging in a new hobby or sport.
Why kitesurfing ?
There are a host of reasons to take up this watersport, and here are just a few:
- It doesn’t require strength You only need to steer the kite with your hands and the wind carries your body along, so once you’ve got the technique you’ll be good to go
- It’s not as expensive as you think While the initial outlay for your board, kite, and harness isn’t pocket money (around £700) once you’ve got them you can use them to your heart’s content
- It’s great for your health As a sport, this improves stamina, strength and overall fitness – good for lowering blood pressure and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- There aren’t any limits Once you’ve learnt how to kitesurf you can constantly learn new tricks, jumps, or backflips with very little harm as you’ve got the water to catch you. If your joints aren’t up to it, though some wide loops and turns can be equally satisfying.
- It’s an excuse to visit beautiful destinations South Africa, Brazil, and the Philippines are all top countries for kitesurfing. But you don’t have to travel far – the Hebrides, Somerset, and Cornwall are also beautiful for a trip away
- It isn’t dangerous As long as you stick to the rules, such as don’t go out on your own and know how to keep risks to a minimum if the wind gets too strong, once you’ve mastered kitesurfing it’s up to you how far you want to go and how much risk you want to take
How do I learn ?
Simple – there are three easy stages :
- Make sure you have lessons with a professional by taking a course with a reputable kitesurfing school. The British Kitesports Organisation is a good place to start and will point you in the right direction.
- Buy a trainer kite and use it as much as possible so you can learn how strong the wind is and how to steer.
- Practice makes perfect and the more you do it, the better you’ll be! Enjoy it – once you’re up, it’s the best feeling in the world.
There you have it. Kitesurfing is an exciting and easy way to keep healthy, lead an active lifestyle, reduce blood pressure and if Sir Richard Branson can do it – so can you!
Learn the lingo
As with any sport, there are some interesting words and phrases used by devotees. Below are a few examples.
- Power up:
When the kite’s power increases suddenly due to a gust of wind or the kite’s position
To reduce the kite’s pull by adjusting the angle of attack of the kite
- Wind window:
The 120-180 degree arc of the sky downwind of the rider in which the kite can be flown
- Power zone:
The area in the sky where the kite generates the most lift, generally between a 0-60 degree arc from the centre of the downwind direction
- Air time:
The amount of time spent in the air while jumping. The record holder is Jesse Richman, who achieved a 22-second jump. Five to ten seconds is not unusual