Now that summer’s in full swing, this is the perfect time to get some regular swimming time in. Swimming is an excellent full-body workout that’s also low-impact. It can be tailored to your particular needs and scaled up or down based on current fitness level, age, disability, or a number of other factors. You can work one area of the body at a time, or everything together. It can tone muscles, aid in weight loss, improve cardiovascular function, or even be used as physical therapy.
Swimming is ideal for people who suffer from joint pain, sore muscles, weak bones, obesity, or a number of other issues that make other forms of aerobic exercise difficult. Water carries much of our weight for us, relieving the stress we normally put on our bones and joints. Other cardio workouts may be wonderful for people who are already fit and have no chronic issues or pain, but for people who are elderly or have certain disabilities, swimming is an alternative that still allows a substantial workout without aggravating existing problems. People with arthritis may feel especially at ease in a pool.
Don’t be fooled – just because swimming is low-impact doesn’t mean it’s a less effective workout than other forms of aerobic exercise. Swimming provides stretching, strengthening, and toning for our muscles. The resistance of the water makes you work, even when it feels like you’re floating. If you’re doing regular laps, you’re actually working out more areas of your body than if you stick with something like jogging, which only works certain muscle groups and doesn’t provide the resistance of water.
A swim workout can be easily tailored with the use of tools or training. Want to specifically work your arms? Use a float to keep your legs buoyant while you use only your arms to propel yourself through the water. Alternately, kickboards or treading water can be used to build abdominal and leg muscles. Different swimming strokes can be learned and utilized to take advantage of a wide range of motion, which will increase your flexibility.
Swimming in any pool can easily provide you all of the aforementioned workout benefits, but there are even more options. Special “endless pools” (or current pools) provide constant resistance as if you were swimming against an ocean current, keeping you moving against the grain. Lake or ocean swimming provides a different environment and different challenges entirely, though it’s recommended for experienced, knowledgeable swimmers only.
As far as weight loss is concerned, swimming is excellent for staying fit and maintaining a desirable weight. Regular water workouts have the potential for burning a lot of calories if you learn to sprint and recover, or apply additional workouts.
Need more reasons? It can also improve your heart function and your breathing, and lower your risk of diabetes! Like most forms of exercise, it can increase the production of endorphins, which will balance your mood and make you feel great. Plus, it’s cool during the hottest months of the year. What’s not to love?