Swimming: The Perfect Exercise?
By Krista Elliott
During the hot summer months, there's nothing like going for a cool, refreshing dip in a pool, river, or lake. Many of us tend to just lounge around in the water, enjoying the respite from the summer heat and grime. There are many people, however, who use the water as their gym. And if you're not a swimmer, read on to learn about the great benefits that swimming has for your body and mind.
Stay Cool, Man
Exercising outdoors in the summer can be tricky, with the blazing sun and heat beating down on you. Not only is it tiring, but you run the very real risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion, or even heatstroke. But, it can be pretty demotivating to feel like you're stuck indoors on the treadmill or exercise bike, when you'd rather be outdoors. An outdoor body of water is the best of both worlds: Keeping you cool and comfortable while still allowing you to exercise in the fresh air and sunshine. One caveat: The water can reflect the sun's rays, so be sure to apply plenty of waterproof sunblock before swimming, and reapply it after towelling off.
Take It Easy ... On Your Joints
Swimming is the ultimate low-impact exercise. By taking advantage of the natural buoyancy of your body in the water, you avoid the impact on ankles, knees and back that can come with other sports like running or aerobics. As well, the smooth motions of swimming helps the natural lubricant in your joints move around, helping to relieve joint stiffness and achiness.
Fit From Head to Toe
Swimming with varied stroke types can provide a full-body workout. The front or back crawl, with their flutter-kicks, work your glutes and hamstrings, as well as your back and shoulder muscles. The breast-stroke, true to its name, works the muscles in your chest. It also provides great exercise for your hips and your inner and outer thigh muscles. If you're proficient enough to have mastered the butterfly stroke, then congratulations, as it's a full-body workout in itself! You may be wondering, "What about my core muscles?" Well, worry not. No matter what swimming stroke you favor, you're stabilizing your core the entire time while maintaining the correct positioning in the water. So your back and abs are always benefiting. Even the small muscles in your neck, hands, and feet are working while you swim.
Not only does swimming tone and strengthen you from head to toe, but as an aerobic exercise, it gives your heart and lungs a serious workout. You can do a lazy backstroke to gently raise your heart rate, or sprint intervals with a front crawl to really get your heart pounding. Either way, swimming can be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to heart-healthy cardio.
If you're not a swimmer, it's never too late to start! Adult swimming lessons abound, and people have learned to swim even when well into their sixties, seventies, and beyond! So, for the perfect summer workout, it's time to jump in!