If you’re serious about fitness, the gym is undoubtedly, a great place to focus your efforts. Because of the versatility this environment offers, together with professional guidance, I’d be inclined to say that it offers the most practical training solution – especially if a total body overhaul is what you’re looking for.
However, let’s get one or two things straight. Sometimes, time constraints, family/work/study commitments mean that on occasion, it’s not always possible to factor in your gym sessions as planned. So what do you do, admit defeat? NO! Hurdles were designed to be jumped right over it; or in this case, swam over it. That’s right – grab your shorts (or bikini – whatever floats your boat), because swimming is a great activity of choice.
Here’s why it’s cool to pool.
1. It’s a great cardiovascular workout
Water adds resistance, so your muscles have to work harder in order to push through the water. This increases the demand for oxygen, causing your heart to pump faster so oxygenated blood and nutrients can be transported to the muscles. With full effort on your part, swimming can provide a better aerobic session than running!
2. You’ll help to increase your metabolism
Swimming for just 20-30 minutes can help to raise the metabolic rate; what’s more, even after your swim, your metabolism is said to remain elevated for several hours. If you’re aiming to get lean, this can offer an advantage.
3. It works all major muscle groups
The arms, chest, back, legs, glutes and core muscles are all targeted during swimming, resulting in full-body toning without the need to carry out separate or specific exercises. This is perfect when you’re pushed for time! It’s recommended that you explore the full range of swimming strokes to gain maximum results.
4. It’s gentle on the joints
The resistance mentioned above also acts as a shock-absorber, cushioning the joints and ligaments. This can offer a welcome break to your usual training session, and some experts say that low-impact exercise like swimming can even help to speed your recovery, and help to avoid further injury. So, it’s ideal for incorporation into an existing regime; a gym and swim, of sorts.
5. It increases strength and flexibility
Because of the way you’re naturally positioned in the water, swimming helps to elongate muscles; effectively you’re doing stretching exercises as you swim. Over time, this can help to build strength and flexibility.
To reiterate the point above, there’s less risk of ‘jarring’ or over-straining muscles, too. It’s still important to warm up, though, by starting with a gentler pace.
6. It’s a great exercise in its own right
Depending on your goals, swimming can be an effective type of training in its own right. You might want to pair it with some other type of resistance techniques (outside of the pool) to ensure that you’re accurately working muscle groups. If you’re a strong swimmer, look into setting yourself some targets, and gradually increasing the number of lengths you do each week.
7. It’s refreshing
Going swimming makes a change from your usual sweat-it-out routine. Well, you’ll still sweat, but you won’t notice, emerged in water (a tad DIS-GASTING, but true), and you’ll feel much cooler. There’s nothing more invigorating than a swim; an early morning dip in the sea is particularly brisk, but let’s face it – this isn’t a practical option for the majority here in exotic Blighty, so a heated indoor pool will have to do. ;)