Give these summer Olympic sports a try

By: Health Local Staff Jul 27, 2012
summer Olympic sports

These sports aren't just for Olympians!

The Olympics are a showcase for the best athletes on earth, but many Olympic sports can be rewarding for novices and experts alike.


Fencing is a combat sport involving blades ranging from light, flexible foils to heavier cutting and thrusting weapons. Beginning fencers should join a fencing club or class to have access to fencing equipment and receive proper instruction.

The fast pace of fencing makes it a great cardiovascular workout. Cardiovascular – or aerobic – exercise is important for maintaining overall health, from heart and lung strength to improved immune function. Aerobic exercise burns calories quickly, and can help individuals to lose excess weight.

Fencing requires tactics and split-second decisions, making it a work-out for the mind as well as the body. Regular mental challenges help to keep brain function sharp and guard against degenerative brain diseases.

Plus, who among us hasn’t dreamed of crossing blades in a real life sword fight?


Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that has become the most widely practiced form of martial arts in the world. Students of taekwondo often study for many years and gradually advance to higher ranks of the sport – usually signified by different colours of belt.

Taekwondo is a great all-around workout that can help improve stamina, bone strength, flexibility, balance, and muscle tone. Styles of taekwondo can vary, with more traditional forms placing greater emphasis on balance and flexibility, and newer styles emphasizing speed and sparring.

Taekwondo may include meditation and philosophy, and the aerobic and combat elements of the sport can be effective ways to reduce stress. Taekwondo is good aerobic exercise, with speedier styles being ideal for calorie burning and weight loss.


Badminton is a racquet sport played with a tall net and feathered shuttlecocks. Players use their racquets to hit the shuttlecock back and forth across the net, trying to get it to land in their opponent’s court. Badminton is a relatively easy and inexpensive sport for a novice to try. Many gyms or community centers have badminton courts, and equipment for borrow or rent. Racquets and shuttlecocks are also fairly cheap to purchase.

Badminton is very fast moving, and playing 1-on-1 provides a terrific aerobic workout. The sport can help to lower an individual’s bad cholesterol, and lower the risk of heart disease. Physical activity like badminton improves bone srength and prevents the  development of osteoporosis.


Rowing is a racing sport in which individuals or teams use oars to propel boats through the water. However, enjoying the benefits of rowing doesn’t require racing, and can even happen on a completely individual basis.

Most large lake or rivers with stretches of flat water are appropriate for rowing. The sport usually requires joining a rowing class or club to avoid the significant cost of purchasing your own equipment. Some instruction is also a good idea to ensure proper technique.

Rowing has the advantage of being a low impact activity that will not wear down your joints, and can be enjoyed by all ages. It is nevertheless a full body workout, and one that manages to utilize each of the body’s majour muscle groups. Individuals without access to outdoor rowing may also enjoy many of the same benefits from indoor rowing.

Race Walking

Race walking involves walking at high cadences similar to those of competitive runners. Competitive race walkers must appear to have one of their feet on the ground at all times, unlike runners who leap from one foot to the other.

Race walking is an easy and inexpensive event for anyone to try, since it requires nothing more than a pair of athletic shoes. The high cadence of race walking gives it similar aerobic benefits to running, but without the high joint impact of running.


The modern triathlon is the ultimate endurance event, requiring athletes to complete a running segment, a cycling segment, and a distance swim in a single race. This is an event for strong athletes looking for a supreme challenge.

Only official races are considered to be triathlons, but individuals who prefer not to compete can still enjoy the cross-training benefits of including swimming, cycling, and running in their regular fitness routines.

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at