Fit Thursdays: Swimming for health (and a fit body!) - How It Works
By Personal Trainer Elaine Delaney.
Is swimming one of the best sports for our body? Absolutely. Swimming holds unique characteristics that no other aerobic exercise does; it is very low impact on the body, improves your heart health and builds muscle. The only negative to swimming (for some) are the budgie smugglers that come out in summer.
Conditions the whole body
Swimming is one of few cardiovascular exercises that recruit muscles from the entire body. It works to strengthen the abdominal muscles, upper and lower back, shoulders, arms and legs. As it works the whole body it is an ideal exercise for weight loss.
Benefits of swimming
The physical, mental and social benefits of swimming are endless but include some of the following:
· Encourages full range of motion of the joints
· Suitable for all ages
· Social event e.g. mother and toddler or aqua aerobics.
· Low impact on the joints (ideal exercise for those who suffer with arthritis)
· Improves circulation and promotes a healthier heart
· Improves blood pressure
· Increases flexibility
· Release endorphins which gives us the happy high feeling
· Reduces stress levels
· Relatively lost cost
Before you get started
Before you jump into a pool, river, lake or the sea remember the following:
· Ensure the area is safe and are there lifeguards on duty
· If you are a not a strong swimmer stay close to the edges or shallow areas
· Complete a full stretch routine before you begin swimming
· Stay well hydrated especially on humid days
· Use sun screen if swimming outdoors
· If you are a beginner to exercise or have not exercised recently it is recommended to seek clearance from your doctor first
· Listen to your body and don’t place your body under excessive stress
Why should we exercise in water rather than on land?
Low impact – when submersed in water about neck deep, the water absorbs almost 90% of our body weight in comparison to running, we absorb almost 250% of our body weight upon impact with the ground.
Resistance – the water will continually provide resistance whilst swimming this helps to build muscle and increase heart rate.
Cooling effects - there is less of a chance of overheating whilst in water as it disperses heat effectively. This will continually cool the body, perfect on a warm summer’s day.
Swimming and Asthma
Swimming has been proven to be beneficial for asthma sufferers, as it encourages lung function and breathing control. The number of asthma attacks encountered is significantly reduced. Whilst swimming, the air inhaled is warm and moist in comparison to outdoors. A study was conducted in the US with adolescents who suffered from severe asthma. After 6 weeks of a swimming program the lung function of the participants significantly improved as well as the severity of their symptoms. Did you know that 2008 Olympic gold medallist Peter Vanderkaay was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma at age 10?
Swimming as a Recovery Method
Utilising swimming as a form of active recovery can be very beneficial. It stimulates blood flow and encourages the removal of lactic acid. Due to the low impact nature of swimming the stress levels placed on the joints in minimal thus improving recovery time. As the water is warm it also encourages blood flow and heats up the muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Swimming and Cross Training
As swimming is predominately a cardiovascular activity. The continual resistance of the water on the body will contribute to some muscle gain. For optimal performance, the use of a weights routine concentrating on the upper and lower body muscles is recommended as it will provide greater power in the muscles to push through the water. Working on the lower back and abdominal muscles will help in the rotation and stabilisation of the trunk. It will help improve split times and reach those fitness goals quicker.
Swimming can build cardio-respiratory fitness and muscle mass, help those suffering from asthma, arthritis, joint or muscular pain, help you to lose body fat, can be used for injury rehabilitation/active recovery and suitable for all ages. As you can’t take your electronic devices into the water it is a good opportunity to clear your mind. So the next time you feel tired and stressed, grab your cossies and go for a dip!!
Hi all, my name is Elaine Delaney co-founder of Euphoria Fitness Sydney.
I hold qualifications in health promotion, physiology and fitness. Since a young age, sports and fitness have been my passion and now I want to utilise this knowledge and experience to help other achieve their health and fitness goals.
My philosophy is life is small changes in your lifestyle can have a massive impact on your health. The key to achieving optimal health is good nutrition and exercise. In modern day society your fitness regime requires flexibility and commitment.
Euphoria Fitness provides specialised one to one or group personal training, for more information on the service provided simply use the contact details below.
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