Swim Your Way Slim

By: DEBORAH AUGUSTIN

Edited by: KELSEY CRUZ

I recently realized I needed to switch up my gym routine.

Summer always makes me feel this way. When it’s beautiful outside, the last place I want to be is indoors. Since I’m on summer break from school, I also feel more entitled to take a break from my usual workout routine. While researching fitness classes, a friend mentioned she was looking for a gym with a good pool. That’s when the perfect solution to my fitness dilemma hit me – I should swim for exercise!

I used to love swimming when I was younger, and it never felt like a chore. Even now as an adult, I’m more enthusiastic about swimming than any other type of exercise. Swimming is a great total body workout, and it’s ideal for anyone with an injury that may be preventing them from running. According to an article published on WebMd, the more your body is submerged in water, the less weight it bears.

Swimming is also a great exercise to incorporate into your workouts if you hate weight lifting, but want to include some resistance training. In fact, swimming offers you twelve times the amount of resistance you would experience on land. In the aforementioned WebMd article, Tay Stratton, a head swim coach at the Little Rock Athletic Club, said that swimming is one of the few workouts that offers both cardiovascular and strength training.

Although most people already know how to swim, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are getting the most out of their pool sessions. Using equipment such as kickboards, pull buoys, and paddles while you swim is a great way to improve technique.

“Kickboards are good for strengthening your kick,” says Sara Schubert, competitive swimmer at Wake Forest University.  “You will get nowhere on them if you’re kicking from your knees and not your hips so they promote better form! Pull buoys are good for focusing on your pull and really isolating that part of the stroke to help you get a better feel for the water and a better body position. Paddles also help your pull and help you get a feel for the water.”

If you’re a beginner, Schubert recommends starting with kickboards and pull buoys before graduating to paddles and fins.

Another way to vary your swim workout besides changing equipment is changing your swim stroke. You can focus on either your distance freestyle stroke or swim an equal distance of the four competitive strokes (called an “individual medley” in swimmer’s lingo).

Just as you would gradually increase the distance that you run every week when starting a running program, you can do the same with swimming. Aim to add ten percent to the distance you swim every week, and you will be amazed at how much of a difference it makes in your strength and endurance.

Whether you want to switch up your fitness routine by adding swimming, or start a new one that’s centered around it, you’re sure to see a difference in your muscle tone and fitness levels.

So what are you waiting for? Find a pool near you and jump in!

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Categories: Your Fitness

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