Getting Into The Swim Of Things

Are you looking for an alternative or supplement to your regular training? Finding it difficult to stick to your New Year's resolution exercise regimen? Has an injury sidelined you from your activities? Finding yourself sedentary, cooped up inside from the cold? It may be time to dig out your swimsuit and head to the local pool to enjoy the benefits of swimming.

Swimming is great exercise and has low impact on your joints.

Pools that were once lined with lanes for endurance swimming have evolved throughout the years to offer a variety of activities for every age, ability and exercise preference. As well as lane swimming, aquatic exercise now includes water aerobics, aquafit, kicking workouts, pool running, Watsu (Shiatsu in water) and more. If you have reduced your activity level due to injury or surgery, aquatic therapy allows you to maintain your fitness level while assisting in rehabilitation and recovery.

Aquatic Versus Non-Aquatic Exercise

Due to the buoyancy and resistance properties of water, aquatic exercise and aquatic therapy have significant advantages compared to land-based activities.

The buoyancy of water puts you in a near zero gravity environment that allows you to work your heart and muscles without jolting and jarring your body. With less impact on the body, injuries that often occur during land-based exercise are prevented and injured areas can be strengthened without being exacerbated. With the possibility of injury reduced, you are able to workout at a more rigorous pace. Buoyancy also allows you to work most of your muscles simultaneously which results in a more effective overall workout session.

The resistance water provides enables you to control the intensity of your workout in a pool. By moving faster against the water you increase resistance and experience a more intense workout. Alternatively, if you are injured or want a lower intensity session, you can move slower and more gently in the water which results in less resistance for your body to work against.

Benefits of Swimming

When participating in aquatic exercise you will enjoy both physical and psychological benefits. Similar to land-based exercise, aquatic workouts will increase muscle flexibility, strength and range of motion. You will also notice an improvement in your balance and coordination, and you will enjoy cardiovascular and respiratory benefits while burning calories. The difference is, that unlike most land-based exercises, swimming provides both an aerobic and anaerobic workout simultaneously making the time you spend in the pool more effective. Psychologically speaking, the soothing effects of water and the feeling of weightlessness can help to relax both the body and mind.

Swimming the Right Way

Although swimming prevents many of the injuries related to land-based exercising, aquatic exercise and rehabilitation can cause injury if not done properly. By consulting with the guard at your pool or taking a refresher swimming lesson, you can ensure that you are performing the strokes and/or movements properly to improve the effectiveness and enjoyment of your aquatic exercise program.

If you are healing an injury or recovering from surgery with aquatic therapy you should be monitored by your doctor or therapist throughout your program. If you are beginning a new exercise program, in the water or out, you should first get the go-ahead from your doctor.

Which Way to the Pool?

Most communities have a pool that is open to the public at the local school, the YMCA or local health club. Fortunately, these pools are often indoors allowing for use no matter what the season and can be accessed for free or for a nominal fee. Some plans cover the cost of joining a health club so check with your health insurance provider.

To find a pool where you can swim anywhere in the world, go to Swimmers Guide. For listings within the United States visit the United States Masters Swimming Association on-line.

If you haven't been to your local pool in awhile, give it a try. Your body will thank you for it!

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