If you want to get in shape, swimming is a great form of exercise. Compared to other sports, swimming is a moderately intensive exercise with minimum risk of injury. It is also great for muscle balance – not only does it use just about all major muscle groups, swimming also uses them equally on either side of the body, helping you to develop muscle symmetry.
Swimming is also a great form or rehab and recovery for anyone who needs to avoid load bearing or traumatic movements. When you are swimming, the water acts as a cushion absorbing, supporting your body and preventing you from making harsh, jerky movements.
It is suitable for all ages, from the very young to the very old, and is also an activity that allows the whole family to enjoy exercise and have fun together. In addition to its health benefits, swimming is also a great way to unwind, ease nervous strain and alleviate stress.
Getting in to swimming is easy – there are pools all over the country. If you are already a competent swimmer, you simply need to check out the times when the pool is open for lap swimming – if you plan to swim laps, avoid open sessions or family swim times as you will find yourself fighting against a swarm of kids intent on leaping in and out of the water and having fun.
If you haven’t swum for a while, start gently. Like any repetitive motion, it is easy to overdo it and end up injured. Although swimming is a very safe, low impact form of exercise, swimming lots of laps, especially if you do freestyle or butterfly, can place a strain on your shoulders.
Begin by going slowly, and alternate laps of freestyle with breast stroke. This will allow you to gradually build up your stamina without too much repetitive movement – in fact, the more strokes you can do the better. So if you also know how to do the side stroke (used in life saving), or the back stroke (either elementary of back crawl), mix these in to use different muscles and add more variety to your workouts.
If you aren’t a strong swimmer, or aren’t confident in your strokes, why not consider taking lessons? Although many adults hesitate to take lessons, having a professional coach help you to improve your stroke is one of the best ways to improve your swimming. The effort involved in swimming inefficiently is huge, and will ultimately stop you making progress.
By having someone work with you to improve your strokes, you will find that you are able to quickly make progress and increase the distance you swim, enabling you to get a great workout every time you hit the water.