Hitting the pool for a new kind of workout
by Sabrina Medora
When you think of swimming, you usually associate the activity with summertime, beach balls, tanning, and the occasional fear of chlorine-damaged hair. How many people consider it during the fall and winter as a great workout and a de-stressor? Here’s why you should:
Workout for the whole body
What other exercise improves stamina, tones muscles, increases cardiovascular endurance, strengthens abs, and helps with flexibility and posture? Swimming does all of those with just a few daily, dedicated laps around a pool.
If you’ve had a rough day at work, there’s nothing like propelling your arms through the water and free-style swimminging furiously. You can swim fast or slow, but either movement will help relax you. Swimming helps you clear the mind as focus remains on rhythmic movement, which is meditative. Water is a calming element and it keeps noise and distraction at bay.
When running, jumping rope, or even doing Pilates, the body is constantly jostling and pounding. While the muscles are exercising, the joints are hurting. Exercising in water provides buoyancy while being low-impact, allowing you to tone your muscles without damaging your joints. Fun fact: this is also why swimming is considered ideal for people suffering with osteoporosis!
While swimming, the arms and legs must work against the water, pushing forward no matter how gently. This helps to tone muscles and build endurance simultaneously. This resistance also prevents sudden, jerky movements that often result in injury while exercising on land.
Building up a good cardiovascular endurance is essential. It provides more energy, stronger lungs, and higher tolerance for physical activity. A strong heart helps to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and helps you feel healthier and younger. Swimming conditions the lungs and heart and improves their functioning in a safer manner than any other exercise.
Swimming may not burn as many calories in one exercise as running, but it is better for health and weight-loss in the long run. As endurance grows, the ability to swim faster and longer builds as well and more calories are burned. Combine this with the muscle power your arms, legs, and glutes gain from resistance training in the water and your body will look leaner and healthier. In addition, you can swim everyday with minimal risk of injury, while running or biking daily can do damage to the body.
Most exercises can become monotonous after awhile. Listening to music while exercising doesn’t necessarily distract the mind, but often lets it wander to other stressful thoughts about the day. Swimming has a calmer, healthier effect but it’s also fun! Everybody loves being a water-baby!
So the next time you consider shelling out the big bucks for a yoga pass or braving the inclement weather for a run, try a pool instead!
This article was contributed by the Wellness Section of On Top (www.ontopmag.wordpress.com)