Whether we like it or not, the warm weather marks the beginning of swimming pool season. The opening of public as well as home pools will soon have people breaking out their bathing suits for another season of swimming.
Swimming can be a good way to wind down after a long day or as another means of exercise. It is an excellent way to lose weight and strength train while enjoying the beautiful outdoors. It’s also an activity that can be continued for a lifetime. It’s an exercise that keeps your heart rate up but takes a lot of the stress off of your body and joints.
According to swimming.about.com, 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. Swimming burns calories at a rate of about 3 calories a mile per pound of body weight. If you weigh 150 lbs. and it takes you 30 minutes to swim one mile (1,760 yards or 1,609 meters), then you will be using about 900 calories in one hour.
In addition to burning calories, swimming also builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness. It can also serve as a cross-training element to regular workouts. You can use the pool for a warm-up session before hitting the gym if you like. You can also swim after an intense work out to help cool-down and help your muscles recover while gliding through the water. Or you may want to 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. Then start off slow by swimming strides and gradually increasing your speed in the pool. This will help to elevate your heart rate at a safe pace and help you to last longer during your workout.
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.
Try out different strokes when you are swimming, too. 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!