The Skinny on Swimming
Why you should swap the treadmill for the pool at your next
AHH … SUMMER. If you're like me, then there's
nowhere you'd rather enjoy these endless days of sunshine and
warmth than indoors at a sweaty gym, running to nowhere on an
endless conveyor belt.
Then grab your floaties and nose plugs and head to your nearest
"Swimming is one of the better workouts for your heart," says
Scott Lucett, director of education with the National Academy of
Sports Medicine. "You're constantly going against the resistance of
water, which forces the muscles to continue to work."
Something as simple as walking forward and backward in
waist-high water will not only benefit your heart but also improve
balance, core strength and flexibility.
Swimming is also kinder to those who live with any kind of joint
pain, which can be aggravated by high-impact workouts like running.
Using hydrostatic pressure, water can both soothe and massage you
while you move. "It's a good way to get the benefits of cardio
without placing the type of stress on your body that, say, jogging
on a treadmill will," says Lucett.
In addition, swimming can help you achieve that lean, sculpted
build that will, of course, look great in a swimsuit.
"From the waist up, it will really enhance your muscular
strength," says Lucett. The primary areas of your body that
swimming affects include your shoulders, back, chest and abs.
Sprinting. Getting started in the water is as easy
as copying what you do in the gym. Lucett suggests trying water
sprints, or basically trying to run while you're at least
waist-deep in water. "Depending on the depth of the pool, either do
it while touching the bottom, or while you're buoyant in the
water." It's similar to treading water, which is also a great way
to build muscle strength.
Laps. This good ol' standby is a favorite among
personal trainers. "This is the best way to start integrating
swimming into your workout," Lucett says. "It breaks up the routine
and gives you something to look forward to that's different." Mix
up your routine by jogging one day, biking the next and swimming
laps the third.
As for time? "If you can be on a treadmill for 25 minutes,
substitute the pool and swim laps for 25 minutes," Lucett says.
"And increase your duration from there."
Aqua aerobic classes. Look for one of these classes
that incorporates movements similar to those you'd do in regular
aerobic classes, but in the pool. "In some, you'll hold on to
Styrofoam dumbbells, which adds resistance and makes movements more
challenging," Lucett says.
-By Amanda Myers