Swimming For A Healthier Lifestyle
The pool is for more than lounging, looking good and sipping piña coladas. Looking to tone up, build muscle and be one step closer to that summer body goal? Swimming might be for you. It’s a great workout to adopt when looking to get a full body workout, if you have physical limitations or if you’re just in the mood to try something new.
What is it good for?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rank swimming as the fourth most popular sport in the country. It is great for improving your stamina, building endurance, toning muscles and improving the cardiovascular system, which is home to your heart. A healthy cardiovascular system means your blood is properly oxygenated and transported through to the body’s tissue, organs and cells. In just one hour of light or moderate swimming, you can burn around 423 calories. This is more than golfing, the elliptical and even ballroom dancing.
Low impact, high results.
Workouts such as running can be hard on the body over time. Because of the resistance caused by water, swimming puts less of a strain on joints. The Office on Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends swimming for those with a larger stature. The low impact is also a top reason swimming is recommended for expecting mothers. It helps lessen the chances of contact that comes with activities such as kickboxing and also avoids the possibility of falling, both of which can cause harm to the baby.
How it’s done
Like with any sport, learning proper technique early on in your training will help ensure you are maximizing your workout and won’t cause injury in the process. In swimming, there are four popular strokes to know.
Backstroke is performed with your back to the surface of the pool. With this stroke, the arms take turns circling up out of the water, behind the head and back down into the water.
Breaststroke is performed with your stomach facing the floor of the pool. As you propel forward, bring your arms straight out in front, with your palms glued. Pull your arms out and around to the sides, then back in to your chest.
Freestyle is the normal fast style of swimming you see, performed on your stomach. While kicking your legs, stretch your arms forward alternating your arms, looking the opposite way of the arm out in front.
Butterfly is also performed on your stomach. Your upper body will bob up and out of the water as your arms circle into the air and back down to help propel you forward.
Need a visual on these strokes? Watch and learn here:
Once you get these strokes down, you might feel that swimming laps back and forth can get repetitive. That doesn’t mean water-based exercising can’t be fun. Water aerobics classes combine music, movement and muscles. Looking to do an at-home routine? Follow this quick wet workout and take your first steps to a more toned you.
More than just physical
There are more than just physical benefits to swimming. The sport can have a positive impact on the mind as well. The CDC lists swimming as a remedy for decreasing anxiety and decreasing depression. Studies even show that aerobic workouts can help improve insomnia in adults.
Being comfortable in and around the water can save lives. According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, with an estimated 360,000 deaths per year across the world. Swimming is a good skill to have under your belt, especially if you have children, pets or spend a lot of time at the beach or pool. Drowning is preventable.
Keep it clean
The CDC warns about being cautious when it comes to hygiene around the pool, especially when it’s a public or shared space. With an estimated 0.14 grams of feces entering the pool on each person, it’s important to shower before and after swimming to protect yourself, your family and your fellow swimmers.
Stretch it out
Like with every physical activity, it’s important to stretch before and after swimming. With the resistance taking much of the pressure off of your body, it’s can be difficult to feel a strain or tweak like you would with a land-based activity such as running. You’ll also want to be sure to stay hydrated, replace burned-off calories and might even consider a snack high in potassium, such as a banana, to avoid cramps.
More than a hobby
Swimming can be more than a hobby or workout. It’s a profession. From local competitions to triathlons to the Summer Olympics, athletes around the world head to the pool for friendly and not-so-friendly competition. Natalie Coughlin, Dara Torres, Missy Franklin and Allison Schmitt have all taken home medals from their participation in their respective Olympic events.
The next time you plan a dip to the pool, think about the benefits that swimming can have on your health, both physically and mentally. It’s more than a background for an Instagram photo. It’s the start of a brand-new you.