I've spent so much time in the pool with my kids this summer (as I've mentioned, Charleston is hot in the summer), which has reminded me what an absolutely phenomenal exercise swimming is. The best part? Virtually anyone can do it!
- Cardio fitness
In fact, swimming may actually increase levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, the good kind) and make you more heart healthy.
Swimming really is an all-in-one exercise program. It's both aerobic and toning. It improves flexibility and relieves aching joints. Here are a few of the benefits of swapping the treadmill for the pool once or twice a week.
- Aerobics: Unlike sprinting or weight training, swimming is an aerobic exercise program that requires a sustained oxygen supply over long stretches of time. Aerobic exercise can work wonders for your cardiovascular system by conditioning your heart to be stronger and more efficient. Swimming can actually slow your heart rate, by conditioning your heart to pump blood more effectively.
- All-over muscle toning: When you're in the gym, using weight machines, you'll generally workout one muscle group at a time. Swimming is a sport that requires sustained use of multiple muscle groups. Swimming laps works your arms, shoulders, back, hips, abdominals, glutes and legs, providing an all-over workout that few other exercise programs offer.
- Resistance training: Competitive swimmers actually practice in suits that provide additional resistance, but the recreational swimmer doesn't need to go that far. You'll get all the resistance you need just jumping in. Water offers significantly more resistance than air - up to 12 times - meaning you're getting resistance training and aerobic conditioning all in one exercise.
- Low-impact: The vast majority of aerobic exercise programs are high impact. Walking and running are tough on the knees, and most sports require running and jarring movements that are tough on injured joints. Swimming is an ideal exercise for people with joint problems who still want to get in a high intensity workout. Water bears a remarkable percentage of your weight when you enter the pool. You're only bearing 50% of your weight when you're submerged to your chest. When you're up to your neck, you're only responsible for 10% of your body weight. Not only are you freed from having to carry your own weight, but you're also spared the discomfort and possible additional injury high impact workouts present.