You may be no Michael Phelps or Ian Thorpe but that doesn’t mean you can’t swim to stay healthy! Love the water and you will be a fit water baby for life.
Going to the gym, early morning jogs or simply sticking to a well-planned diet – everyone is looking for ways to stay fit. Now with the summer heat bearing down on us, why not take a dip in the water to cool off and get healthy. It’s time to go check out those beaches, water parks and pools, and see what kind of water exercise suits you best.
Swimming tones your entire body while providing an excellent cardiovascular workout; it strengthens your heart muscles and improves the delivery of oxygen to these muscles. A well-planned swimming routine increases speed and allows one to cultivate better techniques. It’s also important to maintain a consistent frequency, once you’ve included swimming in your fitness regime. To get the best results, one should swim at least three times a week.
Even top models have tried it. Elle MacPherson’s personal trainer James Duigan said that he’s used numerous workouts varying in range and style to help her keep fit, swimming being one of them.
Swimming is great for general fitness; however, for those who wish to lose weight, swimming may not always be the best way to drop excess pounds. Research suggests that people tend to consume more calories after a swimming session. And some swimmers become so tired from all the training and exercise, they end up sleeping, sitting and being relatively inactive the rest of the day.
These help build strength, boost endurance and rehabilitate the body after an injury. To do a deep water workout, a buoyancy vest is helpful to keep one suspended while engaged in running, walking, kicking, and twisting movements.
Julia Roberts’ personal trainer Kathy Kaehler has a water fitness plan all worked out for her. Kathy claims, “There are hundreds of exercises that can be done in the shallow and deep ends of a pool… including walking, marching, running, cross-country skiing, kicking, leaping – even crunches.” Julia Roberts follows a fitness regime that includes - jumping jacks, water walking and water running in the deep end using flotation belts. For toning, she does scissors, heel lifts, leg lifts, leg circles and knee swivels.
Be careful not to overdo it, though, as exercising in water provides 12 times the resistance of exercising on land.
Benefits of Swimming:
- Exercises almost the entire body - heart, lungs, and muscles - with very little joint strain. It burns an estimated 500 calories per hour.
- Stimulates circulation and promotes proper breathing
- Helps combat the ageing process For those who exercise moderately six or seven days a week, studies have found that swimming is one of the exercises that help one stay looking younger much longer and also keep a healthy beating heart.
- Fantastic for toning the upper arms, shoulders and legs. The best strokes for whole body toning are freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke
Even the psychological benefits of swimming are noteworthy:
- Helps develop a positive mental attitude and strong self-esteem
- Reduces stress
- Soothes the mind and body
Swimming Safety Tips (in the pool or at the beach):
- Don't swallow the water. Remember that you’re sharing the water with others, and even the chlorine in the pool doesn’t kill all germs.
- Know your swimming limits and stay within them. Be aware of which side is the shallow end and where the deep end begins.
- Do not chew gum or eat while swimming. You could easily choke.
- If you are caught in a rip current or undertow at the beach, swim parallel to the shore (alongside the shore) rather than toward the shore until the water stops pulling you, then swim back to shore. If that’s not possible, tread water and wave for a lifeguard.
- It’s always advisable to face the waves, instead of turning your back on them so you know what's coming.
- If you get into trouble in the water, do not panic or get frightened. Try to keep your body relaxed. When your body is not in panic mode, you will breathe easier.
- Alcohol and swimming don't mix. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination, and also reduces the body's ability to stay warm.
Lastly, remember to enjoy yourself! Who says you can’t have fun even in the sun! Whether it’s swimming or water workouts – either way, it’s worth the dip. Who knows? You could be the next Michael Phelps… with a great bod to top it off! - Hewasa