Don’t you remember how we used to swim all the time while we were a kid? Maybe your parents enrolled you to that swimming class with a bunch of your classmates at school, and you anticipated that swimming class more than anything? I wonder why as adults we do not swim as much anymore. Is it because we can’t have the time or the place, or is it because we grow more conscious about our appearance that we do not want to be caught dead in a swimming piece? Whatever it is, it’s a shame that swimming falls more and more out of our favor.
1. Great Cardiovascular Benefits… and Live Longer?
I don’t need to say much, really. Swimming regularly strengthens your heart, making it more efficient in pumping blood. Stronger heart is linked to reduced chances of coronary diseases lower blood pressure, and be healthier overall. In general, aerobics exercise also correlates to improved cholesterol level and lowered risk of diabetes. Here’s another interesting benefit – according to Prevention magazine swimmers may just live longer, “… South Carolina researchers speculate that water-based workouts are tops for lifelong fitness, thanks to their low injury risk and built-in full-body toning combined with joint-friendly cardio”.
2. Lean, Mean, Building Machine
You must have seen a swimmer’s body and gape in awe on how lean he or she is. Swimming is a total body workout, engaging in your major muscles like quadriceps (upper legs), pectorals (chest), calves, gluteal (butt, ahem), core (hello, abs!), shoulder and arms, while working on your stamina and endurance. With running, you are up against air resistance; swimming, on the other hand, you are going against water resistance, which is much denser than air. With swimming, you are doing aerobics with an added resistance.
3. Easy on Your Joints
Intense on-land aerobics may be good, but they give out a lot of impact on your knees and joints, while swimming keep them buoyed. When immersed to the chest, your body only bears 25-35 percent of its weight. The water resistance protects your body from being beaten up by gravity and hard surface. If you are recovering from an injury, swimming is usually a great therapy to get you back in shape. Swimming may also be a great starting point for people with excess weight, as they often suffer from weak joints.
4. For Anyone at Any Age
From kids to seniors, swimming is for everyone. Kids love the fun, and seniors enjoy the low-impact effect on the body. If that 50 y-o gentleman on the pool can do laps, so can you!
5. Excellent Motivator
Everybody wants to look great in a bathing suit. By swimming regularly, you are forced to see your body clearer, be more aware, and hopefully become motivated enough to improve it, while acknowledging we can’t all look like Adriana Lima in a bikini. And don’t bother worrying too much about how you look like, because everybody else at the pool is, too, so consumed on how they look, they won’t have the eye on anything else. Honestly. We love this flattering TwentyForteen one-piece with diagonal slimming-stripes in front.
Mono-knotted string one-piece
There are a lot of swimming programs out there. I would recommend programs put together by Women’s Health (requires sign-up to download the pdf schedule) and Shape magazine. Just print them and bring them to the pool!
As a fan of high-intensity interval training (or HIIT), I am including here an example of workout that will give you a 45-minutes to 1-hour of solid workout.
Warm up by easy swimming for about 10 minutes
Interval burst: Freestyle sprint for 30 seconds. Sprint means sprint – you need to do it all out, with the highest intensity you can’t handle, of course without passing out. Stay safe!
Rest period: Easy swim or paddle for 45 seconds to 1.5 minutes, depending on your fitness level. Start with 1.5 minutes and work down to 45 seconds of rest period
Repeat Step 2-3 until you rack up a total of 15-20 minutes
Cool down by swimming laps in easy-to-moderate pace for another 10-15 minutes or so.
End your workout by stretching for 5-10 minutes.
Don’t forget to moisturize a lot following your swim and taking extra care to your hair, as chlorinated water does dry them out. Other than that, swimming is just good, good, and good.
* image courtesy of dreamstime.com, gettyimages.com, TwentyForteen.