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Swimming for Fitness

13 May Posted by in Fitness, Latest News | Comments
Swimming for Fitness
 

Swimming is a good fitness choice for just about everyone, especially those who have physical limitations or who find other forms of exercise painful.

“It is a good, whole-body exercise that has low impact for people with arthritis, musculoskeletal, or weight limitations,” says Robergs, director of the exercise physiology laboratories at The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Swimming for fitnessWater’s buoyancy accommodates the unfit as well as the fit. Water cushions stiff joints or fragile bones that might be injured by the impact of land exercises. When immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50% of its weight; immersed to the chest, it’s 25%-35%; and to the neck, 10%.

Athletes use water to rehabilitate after injury or to cross-train. People with arthritis or other disabilities use water to improve fitness and range of motion and to relieve pain and stiffness.

“Swimming is also desirable for people with exercise-induced asthma,” says Robergs, “as the warm, humid air [around the pool] causes less irritation to the airways.”

 

Fitness Benefits

Not only is swimming easy on the body, it’s a great way to get fit, according to Tay Stratton, head swim coach at the Little Rock Athletic Club.

Swimming recruits all the major muscle groups, including the shoulders, back, abdominals, legs, hips, and glutes, she says. And because water affords 12 times the resistance as air in every direction, it really helps to build strength, she says.

Swimming for fitness

How to Get Started

If you’re ready to get started, experts recommend getting a swim coach or joining a masters swimming group in your area. Don’t be intimidated by the name; ‘masters’ just means over age 20.

Masters swimming accommodates all levels, from beginners to advanced, and you don’t have to want to compete to join. This type of group supports recreational swimming for fitness, and is a great way to learn technique — which is everything in swimming.

Getting the rhythm of the strokes and the breath can be overwhelming at first. Coaches break it down and take you there slowly, practicing one part at a time.

If you’re a beginner, start slowly. Try to swim for 10 minutes. Build up to a 30-minute workout, three to five times a week. Include a warm-up and a cool-down, and, in the middle, challenge yourself by working on endurance, stroke efficiency, or speed.

“I really encourage [new swimmers] not to get frustrated,” says Stratton. “Swimming takes a long time. We’re land-based; the water feels so foreign to us.”

There’s more than one way to tackle swimming. Before you feel comfortable putting your face in the water, you can practice drills with a kickboard, or even walk the length of the pool.

In fact, Nelson recommends that beginners start with vertical strength-training exercises in the pool. That means things like walking or jogging a length of the pool in waist-deep water, or doing some strengthening by sinking in up to the neck.

“Instead of swimming with improper technique,” says Nelson, “we want to get them vertical to strengthen their core before they put their face in the water.”

A comfortable swimsuit and a pair of goggles are all you need to start, say experts. You can even wait on the goggles if you’re not ready to put your face in the water yet.

Swimming for fitness

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