Get in the Swim
As exercise goes, swimming offers its own unique set of benefits. Besides providing health benefits for your heart and lungs, water offers constant, gentle pressure on every part of the body, which helps improve circulation and may help to ease joint and back pain, and increase flexibility and range of motion. You can decrease your risk of chronic illness, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol by exercising 30 to 60 minutes, three to four days per week.
Learn to breathe
If you're new to swimming, breathing is the most important skill to master.
Practice inhaling, then exhaling under water as you're swimming, so breathing becomes more fluid. Over time, build up endurance. Once you master that, then you can concentrate on swimming.
Beginner's 30-minute workout
Like exercising on land, it's important to organize your water workout into three parts: a warm-up, the main set, and a cool-down.
For the warm-up, plan to spend five minutes getting your body acclimated and ready by treading water, water jogging in the shallow end or stretching by the side of the pool. Then, swim a few easy laps.
For your main set, spend 20 minutes doing laps. You can either mix your strokes or concentrate on one. A good stroke to master is the hand-over-hand crawl or freestyle stroke, in which you gently flutter kick and coordinate your hand-over-arm motion so you rhythmically breathe from one side when your head is turned and your opposite arm is forward. It is important to start slowly and ease into this routine, gradually increasing the amount of time exercised as you feel comfortable. For instance, you may start by swimming for one to two minutes, and then resting until you catch your breath. Remember to always swim at your own pace.
Go with a glide
Also, make sure you glide at the start of every lap, instead of swimming right from the get-go.
For the cool-down, spend five minutes at the end of your workout doing stretches, water exercises, or a few easy laps.
If you experience any symptoms while swimming, including shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, or nausea, stop swimming immediately and call your health care provider. If you have not previously exercised, you should consult your health care provider prior to beginning a new exercise program.
- Moloney Johns, Amanda, PA-C, MPAS, BBA
- Weisbart, Ed, MD