Why water should be your workout
Right in time for summer, when it’s getting warmer outside and you may be thinking about a jog on the treadmill, consider swimming instead. Whether you fell in love with it as a child, or you have a strained relationship with the water, swimming has excellent benefits for your body. In fact, it’s the leading exercise to burn calories, boost metabolism and firm every single muscle in your body without putting stress on your joints. Now are you interested?
“You can swim almost every day without risking injury,” according to Dr Joel Stager, director of the Councilman Center for the Science of Swimming at Indiana University at Bloomington.
When it comes to getting trim and sculpting muscles, swimming burns an average of 500 to 700 calories and hour, and it boosts metabolism that helps you burn fat after you’ve dried off and showered. The density of water is almost 800 greater than air, making your swim into a full-body resistance workout with each motion.
Best swimming workouts
Ready to hit the laps? All you need is a swimsuit, goggles and a cap. Here are some simple workouts to get you started. Note: expect to tire quickly when you first start out, and be kind to yourself. Because you’re adjusting to working out in water, versus on land, your breath and body has to operate a bit differently.
- Beginning workout
Swim four lengths of the pool at an easy effort. Rest for 30 seconds. You can also begin this with the kickboard. Repeat five to 10 times. Then, try two or three times a week for the first two weeks.
- Mix up the strokes
Freestyle is the most common and burns major calories, but it’s good to mix it up to target every muscle area, and to beat boredom. Vary it up with the backstroke, which improves your posture by working your back and shoulder muscles, and breaststroke to use the hip and inner-thigh muscles – which is often missed in other workouts.
Here’s how to do these strokes properly, according to Joel Shinofield, head swim coach at Washington and Lee University in Virginia:
Keep your eyes up. Look straight up at the sky or ceiling – not at your toes, which causes your hips to sink – keeping your head in line with the spine. Make a Y, reaching back with each arm at 45-degrees.
Sweep through; reach your arms overhead, palms together. Rotating your palms outward, pull down until your hands are nearly level with your chin. Bring your hands inward by your chest, then reach again. Whip it. Bend your knees and bring your heels toward your butt. Turn your toes outward and kick your legs back and together (like a frog), as you extend your arms forward.
By focusing on short sprints and mixing up strokes, you’ll burn more calories overall. But take it slow and simple to start, as you’ll be sore for a while when you begin – in the best way possible!