With the warm weather comes the opening up of public pools, home pools and breaking out the bathing suit for another season of swimming. For many people, swimming is a good way to wind down after a long day. But others are using swimming as another means of exercise and they are finding that this form of exercise can be both effective and fun!
Exercise experts recommend swimming as a form of exercise because of the great cardiovascular workout you get from swimming. It is considered a great aerobic exercise because by definition it is an action that maintains an elevated heartbeat for a minimum of 20 minutes.
According to Webmd.com swimming recruits all the major muscle groups, including the shoulders, back, abdominals, legs, hips, and glutes. Water also affords 12 times the resistance as air in every direction making it very effective for building strength.
In addition, swimming is a good fitness choice for just about everyone, especially those who have arthritis, musculoskeletal or weight limitations or those who find other forms of exercise painful. Water’s buoyancy accommodates the unfit as well as the fit. Water cushions stiff joints or fragile bones that might be injured by the impact of land exercises. When immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50% of its weight; immersed to the chest, its 25%-35%; and to the neck, 10%.
You can simply add swimming to your pre-existing aerobic workout to help switch things up and keep your workouts fresh. Alternate days that you decide to use swimming as your cardio for that day, so you don’t get bored with any one workout. Instead of staying indoors and using the treadmill or elliptical for a day, get outdoors and swim laps in the pool for the cardio portion of your workout and you will find that exercising comes much easier when you aren’t sticking to the same routine day in and day out.
Like any exercise, you should also start any swimming workout routine by stretching first. You may not realize the affect swimming has on your entire body until it is too late, so be sure to stretch appropriately before you begin. If you’re a beginner, start slowly. Try to swim for 10 minutes. Build up to a 30-minute workout, three to five times a week. Include a warm-up and a cool-down, and, in the middle, challenge yourself by working on endurance, stroke efficiency, or speed.
Experts suggest starting out swimming laps for approximately 20 minutes for women and 30 minutes for men. You can begin to increase your time as necessary and as you continue your workout over the course of weeks or months. Again, this will prevent you from getting too tired, too sore, wore out or disappointed in your swimming workout.
For weight loss, Webmd.com recommends interval training, in which you push yourself hard for short spurts, and then drop back to a less-intense level of exercise.
Try out different strokes when you are swimming. Do some laps using the breaststroke, then switch up and do the backstroke, or even the doggy paddle. Each swimming stroke using a different variety of muscles and therefore will give you the best overall workout.
Playing games in the pool is also a good way to get some exercise in the spring and summer. You can play water polo, water basketball, chicken fights, diving games, or even just do some aerobics in the water. You will get your workout in without even realizing it!
Be sure to wear your sun block (preferably a waterproof kind to avoid unnecessary reapplications) to fight the harmful UV rays of the sun while you are in the pool.
And lastly, keep it safe and have fun. Before you know it, the warm seasons will be over and we’ll be looking for ways to exercise indoors again. Enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts!