Labor Day has come and gone and all of the outdoor pools are sadly shuttered. But swimming isn’t just for summer, so don’t let your swimsuit hide away until spring — take advantage of indoor pools in your neck of the woods. Becky Flanigan, whom I credit with getting me to try my first aqua aerobics class, shares all of the reasons why you shouldn’t stop swimming just because it cools down outside. Becky writes for AnApplePerDay.com, and focuses on kids, parenting, exercise and health. She is avid about her workouts, which range from aqua jogging to marathon training. She and her husband Ed also enjoy entertaining and traveling with their three kids.
Disclaimer: Swimming and aqua aerobics are not only good for your heart, they’re FUN!
Now that the legalities are out of the way, let’s get down to business, and by business, I mean fun ways to get (and stay) in shape in the water. When it comes to participation, swimming is perhaps the most far-reaching of all exercises, in that it is truly a “cradle to grave” activity: babies, toddlers, teens, adults and senior citizens can maintain and improve their health with just a few hours a week in a swimming pool.
Let’s start with the most universally known water activity: swimming. On the United States Masters Swimming website, there is a competition category for 100 to 104-year-olds! Even Jack LaLanne, until just a week before his death at the age of 96, swam for an hour a day. Today, the benefits of swimming are widely known, and classes designed for babies, toddlers, and pregnant women are commonplace at gyms and community centers across the country. There are so many awesome benefits of swimming and water activities that everyone should be hopping into the pool year-round!
5 Reasons to Swim All Year
1. Cardiovascular health. One of the most important physical benefits of swimming is improved heart health. Studies show that stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped with each beat — an indicator of heart strength) improves greatly with a regular swimming regimen. And when our hearts are strong, our circulation improves, which is especially important during pregnancy, and as we get older.
2. Increased muscle mass. Regular swimming practices will, at the very least, tone your upper body, especially the triceps (back of arms) and shoulders. Distance and competitive swimmers stand to build serious muscle mass (not just toning what’s already there). Both groups, due to the aerobic nature of swimming, typically see weight-loss and reduction in body fat mass when combined with a healthy nutritional program. In fact, even one hour of moderate swimming activity can burn 500 calories. A vigorous hour of swimming can burn 800 calories. Don’t forget: Before beginning any new exercise routine or taking a current regimen to the next level, check with your doctor first.
3. Decreased wear and tear. Whether you are an athlete recovering from an injury, suffering from a chronic and painful disease like arthritis, or just mindful about naturally deteriorating bone mass (osteoporosis), swimming is one of the best low-impact activities in which you can participate. With no ground contact, and therefore no jarring action to bones and joints, combined with water’s anti-gravitational properties, swimming is perfectly suited to those who must use extra caution when exercising.
4. Don’t forget about the mind! Many swimmers, both recreational and competitive, have reported that swimming is not only relaxing in the moment, but lowers stress and increases a sense of well-being long after their workout is finished, resulting in an improved overall mood and better sleep.
5. Aqua aerobics: Quality time in the water. Who doesn’t remember splashing and playing in the water as a child, and the sense of freedom that washed over you as you dove into the deep end? Being in the water is just plain fun for all ages. Today, with the development of aqua aerobics routines, getting healthy in the water isn’t just about doing laps from end to end. Aqua aerobics, which are simply an assortment of water-based movements, and calisthenics with or without added arm or wrist weights, can be experienced by the whole family — together! Moves are easily adaptable for height and strength, meaning that younger members of the family can have fun and get fit in the same pool, too.
- Ten Health Benefits of Swimming
- Six Reasons Why Water Exercising is Fun and Effective
- Heart Health and Swimming Pools
Thanks Becky for encouraging us to get our splash on. Now maybe I’ll hit the pool a few times this fall! —Erin