If you’re looking for an exercise regimen that promises all-body conditioning and is equally beneficial to young and old, overweight and average weight, injured and able-bodied, there’s basically only one sport that comes to mind: swimming. Swimming is unique in that just about anyone in any physical condition can benefit from making it part of their exercise routine. If you can find a bathing suit to fit, you can swim. Read on to find out how swimming for fitness training is one of the best things you can do for you body.
If you speak to exercise physiologists, doctors and rehabilitation specialists, they’ll all agree that swimming is a great get-fit tool for people who may have difficulty performing other types of exercise. If you’re getting over an injury that makes it difficult to move around, but hope to get back on the fitness train as soon as possible, swimming may just be the answer. Low-impact exercise can help people get over injuries like sprains and breaks much faster than if they weren’t doing any exercise at all. And the problem with many injuries is that they’re so painful that people are hesitant and fearful to start working out again due to fear of re-injury. Swimming can help take that fear away.
Water creates a buoyant environment that cushions injured limbs. Once you’re in the water up to your chest, your body is supporting only half of its weight. When you go a bit deeper and the water reaches your chest, your body is now supporting between 25% and 35% of its weight. Once you’re in up to your neck, you’re only supporting 10% of your weight. People who suffer from arthritis find that they feel a lot less pain once they’re in the water. They find that they have more range of motion in the water, and can therefore do their rehab exercises much easier.
The best exercises are those that work out all of the major muscle groups in your body like the legs, abs, shoulders, back and glutes. And thanks to water’s weightless effect on the body, your muscles are able to push through motions at 12 times the resistance that they would in open air. That means that you’re really pushing the muscles, and getting a more intense cardiovascular and strength-building workout than you would on dry land.
The one area that people remain in disagreement about is whether or not swimming can be used for weight loss. While there’s no question that swimming gives you an effective cardiovascular and muscle-strengthening workout, reviews are split on whether swimming helps you burn calories at an efficient enough pace to lose weight. Many people actually gain weight when they swim, an effect that’s probably due in part to increased lean muscle mass. Another theory is that the very resistance that makes water so perfect for muscle building is also responsible for making it difficult for your body to burn many calories at an efficient pace because it’s slowing down its movement. Additionally, swimming is also thought to majorly boost your appetite. Since swimming lowers your body temperature, it needs calories to raise it back up, and you crave food.
There are many people that lose weight thanks to swimming, and that’s probably due to the fact that they do interval and cross training as well. The people who have the most success at weight loss are probably those who were overweight when they started swimming, and who are benefitting from having any physical exercise at all.
If you’re interested in starting a swimming-for-fitness program, your best bet is to get some guidance to start off. Local masters swimming groups welcome beginning swimmers over the age of 20 who are looking to incorporate swimming into a fitness routine. They can help you learn technique and develop a routine. You could also get a swim coach as well. He can walk you through all of the little details that will make all of the difference in your routine like breathing and stroke rhythm.
You may be pumped to get started, and you’re raring to go, but start out slowly. You want to give your body time to get used to the water. Use a kickboard to run through drills as you get used to water movement. Vertical strength training exercises like walking or running the length of the pool can help you get your muscles in perfect condition for swimming by strengthening your core. Slowly work your way up to a half hour workout, from 3 to 5 days a week. Every workout should include a warm-up and a cool-down. As you gain strength, you can start to up your time and speed.