Get Into the Swim of It

Swim BackstrokeIt’s summer. Time for vacations, barbecues and warm weather. Why not make this a time to begin a new healthy activity?

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. 

Before I Start

If you have not previously exercised, you should consult your health care provider prior to beginning a new exercise program.

My Doctor Says OK. Now What?

Here is a 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.

For the cool-down, spend five minutes at the end of your workout doing stretches, water exercises or a few easy laps.

What if I Don’t Feel Right?

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 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.

This is Fun. Where Can I Go?

During the summer, Worcester has many pools and beaches to visit. You can also check your local community website for public places to swim. These places are great for kids and families too. Why not get them to join you? You can also look into local fitness clubs.

Join the conversation. Share your summer fitness plans. Will you try swimming? If you do swim, can you offer some tips for others who are starting out?


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