Do you love swimming? If you love this water activity, keep on reading to find out some of its benefits for your health, how to avoid injuries and check if this sport can be used to lose weight.
Swimming is one of those exercises that are hard to hate since it’s gentle and yet fun at the same time. Most people enjoy a dip in the pool.
So, why not turn that dip into some laps as a form of exercise? There are many fitness benefits that one can get from swimming.
Exercise can be hard on the joints. There are people who are runners who are in good shape, but their knees and hips have paid the price.
Any number of exercises can be good for you, but if you have aches and pains it might be hard for you do get through a workout without a lot of pain.
You may also want to do something that is easy on the joints if you are expecting. If you want something effective that is easy on the body, you want to do a swimming exercise.
You can probably find a swimming exercise program at your local gym or YMCA/YWCA. These classes are held in a pool, as you may have guessed, and are often offered all year long.
Most gyms have heated indoor pools that are maintained just for those who wish to engage in a swimming exercise. It’s not just for swimming laps either. There are many things you can do in a pool.
You can have your own pool if you can afford it, or you can use the community pool in the summer months. The community pool is fine, but it is often too crowded for any sort of organized workout program.
You may find a swimming exercise that is geared towards aerobics. Though it won’t be the same in water, it will be just as effective, and you will remain cooler throughout the workout. The water adds natural resistance, but it is also very good for your joints.
There is not a lot of jarring when you do a swimming exercise, and you may find that some of your everyday pains might just start to go away.
You can also do swim dancing for your swimming exercise if you want, or you can stick to the tried and true swimming for fun. You can do laps or you can go up and down a lane, it really doesn’t matter.
Head to your local indoor pool four or five days a week and swim. Virtually every pool has a spot where you can accomplish this. Use proper form and tackle as many laps as you can handle.
As time passes, your speed will increase, and so will your number of laps. In the process, you will be achieving a great overall body workout with your swimming exercise.
Swimming Is Great Cardio
Swimming requires a lot of energy and burns a lot of calories thanks to the fact that, when you swim, you need to move your whole body instead of just your legs or your arms.
Swimming works your body and heart the same way any cardio workout, such as dancing or running, would. So if you take up swimming for your fitness, you will work your heart and boost your metabolism at the same time.
To get the most out of swimming, it’s best to carry out interval training where you do high-intensity sprint swimming alternated with easier workouts. This way you will push your body hard but will be able to do so for a longer period.
Swimming Is Great For Strength Training
Not only is swimming good for a cardio workout, swimming challenges the muscles all over your body and is great for increasing overall body strength.
The water resistance you face while swimming forces your muscles to work harder – just like traditional forms of strength training. You’ll be able to gain some muscle and tone up your body at the same time.
Swimming is also widely used as therapy to strengthen injured muscles in athletes since the water resistance provides a good workout without giving stress to the injured body parts.
Swimming and Weight Loss
Swimming is considered by many as one of the best exercises or sport to lose weight and to tone muscles because when you swim, most of your muscles are called into action and you are actually having a full body workout.
Furthermore, swimming also has an aerobic effect and so the heart and lungs are getting their dose of exercise as well.
However, a research published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that in the absence of a controlled diet, swimming has little or no effect on weight loss.
Professor Grant Gwinup conducted an experiment correlating swimming with weight loss and came up with surprising results.
1. Test subjects put in a cycling program lost 19 pounds in a 90 days study.
2. Those following a walking program lost 17 pounds in the same period.
3. Now, brace yourself for this! Subjects in the swimming program actually gained extra 5 pounds!
Did the findings shock you? I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I first came across the report.
Professor Gwinup then assumes that swimming in cold water stimulates the appetite to increase caloric consumption. Do you feel hungry after a swimming session? If you do, then professor could be right.
Professor Louise Burke, Head of Nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport pointed out that competitive swimmers typically have body fat levels that are higher than those of runners or cyclists who expend a similar amount of energy when they train.
Why is that so? This is because swimmers feel hungry after swimming and may simply replace all the calories they have burned with a large meal and a sugar-laden drink after their swim.
On top of that, they may even consume more calories than they have used up.
“Some research suggests that this is due to the cool temperatures in which swimmers often train in and by contrast, runners and cyclists usually experience an increase in body temperature during their training sessions, which may help to suppress appetite.” Professor Burke said.
Professor Burke also noted that competitive swimmers are less active when not in training sessions. The swimmers are so tired from the hours of intensive training that they sleep, relax or avoid any active physical activities outside their training sessions. Do you feel tired and sleepy after a swim?
Now, let’s talk about toning muscles. Do note that most of the work your body does when swimming involves positive muscle actions and no negative action.
And we know all know that the negative phase, that is, when lowering the weights during weight training is very important in building muscles.
So can your muscles develop properly when only the positive muscles are worked on?
By the way, before you say that competitive swimmers have nice muscle tone that is because they lift weights to maintain muscle balance as well as to gain strength for more powerful strokes.
Please, do not give up swimming if you enjoy the sport. Doing any exercise or sport is better than not exercising at all. Just make sure that you don’t eat more or become less active after your invigorating swim.
Avoid Back Pain and Injuries
Swimming is considered a beneficial activity in alleviating pain. Whenever athletes experience an injury, swimming can be one way to keep active while avoiding undue stress on the swimmer’s back.
However, there are instances when swimming can also result in back pain and back injuries.
Back problems and lower back injuries can be caused by certain swimming strokes.
To avoid these incidences, recognizing the following factors while performing particular strokes may help:
1.) Rotating the head too far up while doing the freestyle can result in neck and back injuries. Swimmers normally roll their heads upwards to the right to breathe out of the water on the upstroke of the right arm. It is advisable to rotate the head upwards only within the axis of the body and keeping the head down the rest of the time when not going up for air.
2.) If not conditioned properly, the anterior neck muscles become subject to stress while doing the backstroke. This stroke is one that has to be performed gradually to avoid excessive muscle strain.
3.) Flip-turning can have an adverse effect on the neck and back muscles if the head is overextended from the body and not tucked in.
4.) While doing the breaststroke, the head and neck are held still, with only a minimal head raise to take in air.
In general, swimming is a beneficial activity that may alleviate symptoms of back pain. It is not unduly stressful nor does it involve motions that weigh heavily on the back.
In fact, it is a preferable exercise option for people who want to avoid neck or back strain or aggravate any symptoms of other ailments they may have.
It is advised, however, to take lessons in the proper safety measures and swimming techniques to refrain from repetitive or awkward movements that may lead to back injury.
Swimming Is Great For Everybody!
The great part about a swimming exercise is that it doesn’t really matter what it is. As long as you are moving in the water, you are getting a good workout.
The great thing about swimming is that everybody can do it and enjoy it. It’s suitable for every age group and fitness level. You can decide how hard to push yourself when you swim.
Elderly people can benefit from swimming too since the water gives good support to their body and they can stay fit without worrying about injuring their back or joints.
It’s also a great activity for you to do with your family. You can have fun together and stay healthy at the same time. If you bring little kids along to the pool, though, be sure to always keep an eye on them to prevent any accidents.
The water is always great fun for kids, and they won’t even realize they are getting exercise while they are in a pool.
They will just think they are having fun. It might be a great way to get them moving and plant the idea of exercise for good health into their minds for a lifetime.
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