Ever since I was a child, I love to swim. Maybe it’s my Aquarius zodiac sign to blame, but regardless, I would swim every day if I lived in a hot climate year round or had a heated pool behind my house. But mainly due to my weekly schedule and all my other commitments, I only manage to get in two to three swims in a week on average. My preferred times to swim at the gym is at the crack of dawn or late in the evening. With goggles tightly wrapped, cap securely on and one ear plug in my left ear, I swim 30-40 laps nonstop, depending on my restlessness of swimming just laps in a single lane. I do have an underwater MP3 player, but have yet to use it.
Contrary to a popular belief, swimming is not great way to drop excess pounds. While you burn a good amount of calories while swimming, it isn’t as effective with the calorie burn with cardio activities on land. Swimming burns about three calories per mile per pound of bodyweight. So if you weigh 150 lbs. and it takes you 30 minutes to swim one mile, then you will be using approximately 900 calories in one hour. The serious swimmer easily achieves that or better, but the recreational swimmer typically does not swim at the speed, distance or duration so their calorie burn is significantly lower. Also, once you get of the pool, the calories stop burning unlike exercising at land when the increased calorie burn can continue up to 18 hours after your workout.
Nonetheless swimming is an excellent workout and is one of those exercises that, once learned, can be performed well into the late ages of life. The low impact exercise tones your entire body and provides an excellent cardiovascular workout with little strain. Regular swimming builds endurance and builds muscles. Swimming also strengthens your heart and improves the delivery of oxygen to your muscles. It can also better your blood pressure and help to lessen a chance of injury with the total body workout. There are psychological benefits as well, such as complete relaxation, stress reduction and a form of meditation. I love it so much because of the endorphin high I get during and afterward plus the overall toning and conditioning. There are no phones underwater, no interruptions, no pressure, no demands; just you and the clear blue water. Ah nirvana, at least for me.
For my swim workouts, I mainly swim freestyle, but sometimes will add the breast and back strokes to work other muscles. I often use swim paddles to strengthen my stoke mechanics, a kickboard to work my legs, and a pull buoy to push my upper body. I would also use training fins more regularly, as I love the quickness I gain through the water by using them, if it weren’t the muscle build I quickly gain with the added resistance. Whentraining for an upcoming triathlon, I will then do a lot of sprint work in the water to simulate what I will be doing in the first leg of a sprint tri.
In addition to swimming laps, one can participate in a water aerobics class, water walk or jog, or participate in a water yoga class and other options at a nearby gym or swim club. What is so great about swimming is that it exercises almost your entire body – heart, lungs, and muscles included – with very little joint strain. It is great for general fitness and it’s great for anyone at any age. So now that it’s summer and warmer weather has arrived, hopefully you will find an opportunity or two to get out there and splish splash about and make your own wonderful waves.
Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.