National guidelines for a healthy heart suggest getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Swimming is a great way to incorporate both strength building and aerobic activity into your fitness routine while going easy on the joints. April is adult learn to swim month, and a great time to learn about the benefits of swimming and how to get started.
Benefits of Swimming:
- Swimming is a cardiovascular AND strengthening activity. Swimming improves the efficiency of your muscles (including your heart), making them work more effectively while raising your heart rate. Strength building exercise uses resistance to work the muscles which helps us build stronger muscles. Water provides great resistance for your body making swimming a great full body exercise.
- Swimming is a low impact exercise since it provides less stress on your joints and back. Generally, swimming allows you to work at a higher intensity on a regular basis without the wear and tear on your joints that is common in other weight bearing exercises like jogging or running.
- Swimming helps to expand your lung capacity. If your face is in the water part of the time, you have to learn to breathe more efficiently. This means that swimmers tend to be better at inhaling and exhaling more deeply.
- Swimming is an activity that almost anyone can do. Whether you are a child, an adult, a senior or someone recovering from an injury, swimming can give you a great workout.
- Swimming is a great way to deal with stress. Exercise itself has been known to release endorphins that help with stress, but being in the water appears to block additional sensory information that we are all inundated with each day. (It is hard to return a text or send an email while swimming!)
Not a great swimmer? Here are some things to consider:
- Look into swimming lessons near you, you are never too old to learn how to swim!
- Find a master swim program near you. (Masters swim programs are for adults 18 years or older of all levels and abilities.) You don’t have to be “in shape” to start a masters swimming program and it’s a great way to help you get into shape.
- Try some additional equipment that can help improve your swimming technique and make you stronger like a kick board, paddles, pull buoys, fins or a snorkel.
If swimming laps isn’t your thing:
- Look into a water aerobics program. Water aerobics are aerobics performed in fairly shallow water. The exercises are mainly done in a vertical position with no or very little swimming. It is a great type of resistance training.
- For deeper water training, the participants often use a buoyancy belt that helps keep them suspended in the water.
If you think swimming might be a good fit for you, remember to check with your healthcare provider before getting started. The best thing about swimming is you don’t need a lot of equipment—just a swimsuit, goggles and perhaps a swim cap. Look for a pool near you and enjoy the fun!
In good health,