Take the Plunge
10. Water Works. “Water provides an incredible workout for all body types because of buoyancy,” says Christy Barry, aquatic director of Roseville Health and Wellness Center. “Swimming is a comfortable way to exercise in a low to non-impact environment.” By not putting pounding stress on the muscles, swimming offers a safe all-over body workout, but technique is crucial, so consult with an expert before beginning any aquatics-based fitness program.
9. Fit for All. Whether you’re a back-to-basics beginner, are diving back into the pool after an extended absence, or are ramping up for the Olympic trials – swimming allows you to wave goodbye to excuses no matter your skill level.
8. Cross-training. Lap swimming is an excellent way to shape up, but training for an open water swim, triathlon or aquatic event will test your commitment, help increase your overall level of fitness and keep you motivated. El Dorado Sports Club Masters Coach Kari Duane says “Commit to practicing three times a week for at least three weeks to fall in love with swimming.”
7. Gain a Mental Edge. Swimming relieves physical, mental and emotional stress, while helping restore balance and sharpen focus. “It is a great way to practice meditation in motion,” explains Myron Dong, coach of the Broadstone Masters Swimming Club. “Swimming allows your thoughts to drift into the water while you concentrate on the rhythm of your strokes.”
6. Perfect Form. By gently using virtually every muscle in the body, swimming, notes Coach Myron, is a multi-purpose exercise that builds muscular strength, increases endurance, offers cardiovascular conditioning and improves overall fitness.
5. Friends with Benefits. Group exercise kills two birds with one calculatedly thrown stone. Join an aqua fitness class to burn calories while forming a motivating new social circle.
4. Different Strokes. With four different strokes to whip you into shape and keep you interested – breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, and freestyle – as well as a slew of delightful water games you are still willing to play (Marco? Polo!), swimming is an exercise that you are more likely to stick with for the long haul.
3. Bodies of Water. Don’t have an Olympic-sized bathtub? Pool your resources. Freshwater swimming provides extra resistance and a change of scenery, while water parks offer plenty of aqua opportunities to get fit and a lifeguard to safeguard the tons of fun you’ll have. Got a boat? Anchor it in an empty cove, strap on your flippers and tread water for 20 minutes.
2. Longevity. Swimming is psychosocial, especially for seniors. It helps strengthen aging muscles, relieves discomfort in the joints and helps elderly swimmers develop a circle of peers. According to Coach Duane, swimming is good for up to and past the age of 100.
1. Safety First. Drowning accidents often happen, so take no chances. Never swim alone, leave children unattended, or run on a pool deck. Be familiar with bodies of water; consider depth, temperature, weather, tides and currents. Always wear sunblock and become CPR certified.