When the temperatures rise outside and it is officially Summer, what better way to keep fit than to go for a dip every day? Swimming is a challenge to the muscles but gentle on the joints, making it the perfect form of exercise for those experiencing the aches and pains of natural aging or the mobility impaired who struggle to walk or use fitness machines. With resistance in every direction, swimming is not just a cardiovascular workout, but also a strengthening workout for all the major groups of muscles.
If you are now sufficiently inspired to tone your body and reduce your risk of heart disease by working out in the pool, it’s time to plan a moderate-intensity workout for thirty minutes with a goal of working out two to three times weekly. A few facts to remember are:
- Swimming studies reflect that it reduces stress levels associated with depression and anger by stimulating levels of serotonin
- A 2013 study showed that exercise, such as swimming, can improve quality of sleep
- Two benefits of exercising in water is that the resistance helps strengthen muscles while at the same time providing buoyancy that places less strain on bones and joints.
- A half hour swim three to four times weekly can help manage Type 2 diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol
From the following water exercise list, use any single exercise, or combination, for approximately twenty to thirty minutes for a complete water fitness program:
- Flexibility: Perform range of motion movements for the entire body
- Walking: In waist-deep or chest-deep water move forward and backward with short quick steps alternating with regular, long steps.
- Aerobics: In waist-deep or chest-deep water coordinate full-body, dance-like movements.
- Toning & Strengthening: Perform upper and lower body movements patterned after typical toning exercise movements. To enhance benefit use water weights.
- Deep Running: Using a flotation device, simulate the movement of running in an area deep enough that feet do not touch the bottom of the pool.
- Laps: Using any stroke, or combination of strokes, swim back and forth.
If you don’t have the luxury of using a private pool, it is important then, to know proper pool etiquette when sharing a public pool with others:
- Lanes: Be aware of lane designations and, when using your lane, do not let your arms or legs cross over into the neighboring lanes.
- Lane Sharing: If you have to share a lane, two people usually choose a side, three or more swim in a circular pattern.
- Yielding: Slower swimmers must yield to faster swimmers.
- Passing: If you must pass a swimmer, alert them with a gentle tap on their foot before you begin.
- Entry: Enter the water after any oncoming swimmers have passed.
- Push off: Push offs should be performed under water to reduce waves.
You don’t have to be a competitive swimmer to enjoy swimming for fitness. This particular aerobic activity is one that can be enjoyed from youth until old age. After you have been participating in a swim for fitness program, you should expect to see the following benefits: improved strength, greater endurance, increased flexibility, toned physique, improved circulation, and better weight maintenance.