For a total body workout, it’s all about finding your stroke
Bust out those bathing suits and swimming trunks! Summer’s here and it’s time to hit the beach and/or pool. And while splashing around in the water is fun and a great way to cool down in the hot summer months, did you know it’s also a great way to exercise? Here are some of HellaWella’s tips to help you incorporate swimming into your fitness plan.
Swimming is a great option for the young and old because it’s a total body exercise. Key for any swimmer is knowledge of all of the swimming strokes. So pay attention! There’s freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and sidestroke. You got all that?
“Becoming proficient in strokes is the first step,” Bob Goldberg, head coach of men’s and women’s swimming and diving at the University of Connecticut, told HellaWella. “If someone does not know how to swim, getting good instruction is important to give you the best chance of continuing training.”
But don’t let your newfound enthusiasm for exercise get the best of you. If you’re a beginner, take it slow. Goldberg, who has served as head coach for the university’s swimming and diving team for more than 20 years, suggested that “good” recreational swimmers train for about one hour per session, while beginners should probably limit time in the pool to 30 minutes before getting cold.
And don’t forget to stay in shape when your feet are on dry land, too. Whether you’re a novice or advanced swimmer, you can enhance your swimming routine by incorporating such exercises as push-ups, sit ups, weight training and flexibility exercises, which will help strokes and add variety to workouts.
When in the water, training exercises like “kicking drills with a kick board can be beneficial,” Goldberg added. “Having a pair of fins can make training more diverse and enjoyable and provide good exercise. As one progresses from intermediate to advanced, there are training accessories that will add variety.”
If you’re an older reader of HellaWella, Goldberg suggested that breaststrokes and sidestrokes are the most adaptable strokes for you, since arm recovery is under water and the head can remain above water. He also suggested water aerobics in shallow water as an exercise for senior citizens, which “provides a chance for quality exercise without impact for some.”
“For the average population and baby boomers, [swimming] takes impact off the joints while allowing vigorous exercise, and it has a big cardiovascular component that is so important,” he pointed out.
Like all exercises, swimming can pose a risk for injury, so be careful, please! Most injuries, especially ones that affect shoulders and knees, are a result of “overuse,” something that is seen among certain training programs. Goldberg said such injuries are the most common and sometimes can lead to surgery, but “reasonable recreational level training and smart advanced training can incorporate technique drills, stroke correction and dry land exercises that minimize injuries.”
Above all, swimming should be about having fun. Check out your local swimming facility for lessons, training and more. And let us know how you’re incorporating swimming into your exercise routine.