Want a way to stay healthy, increase strength, reduce stress and have fun? Head to the pool!
Swimming is not just a great way to beat the heat—it’s also among the best low-impact ways to get a full-body workout.
Swimming for exercise has many health benefits, including:
- Improved cardiovascular endurance and fitness, without impacting your joints.
- Toned muscles and increased strength. Nearly all of your muscles are used for swimming, including your core.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. Swimming is a great way to burn calories, and with increased muscle tone, you’ll burn more calories out of the pool!
- Improved lung function. Swimming with your face is in the water enables increases your lungs’ ability to take in and efficiently use oxygen; this can lower resting heart rate and decrease blood pressure.
- Reduced stress. In the right environment, lap-swimming can be a very relaxing and a peaceful form of exercise.
- Increased range of motion with less stress on joints. Movements that are impossible or extremely difficult to do on land can be done in the water, with reduced risk of injury or falls.
Swimming for Fitness
The real beauty of swimming and water-based exercise is that it’s something nearly everyone can do. Its low-impact nature makes it an ideal option for people with arthritis or related issues, for those recovering from an injury or preparing for surgery, for women who are pregnant and for people with balance or mobility challenges.
Have a lower extremity injury? Try swimming with a pull-buoy between your legs and focus on strengthening your upper body. Have an upper body injury, such as shoulder pain? Grab a kick board or pool noodle and do a kick set with your legs. With the right prop and guidance, the possibilities are endless.
Ready to Dive In?
Whether you’re young or old, a cross-training athlete or just looking for something new, swimming can be an ideal exercise.
Like any exercise program, a one and done is not going to cut it when lap-swimming for fitness. Start gradually, if you’re new to it.
Starting with a 20- to 30-minute workout, two to three times each week is a good way to get your feet wet (pun intended). Work up to 45- to 60-minute workouts, three to four times per week or supplement with your current exercise program as you build your cardiovascular strength. You control the pace and intensity, so step it up when you feel ready for more challenge. Then “just keep swimming”!
For those just starting lap-swimming for exercise, a pool is a safer venue than natural bodies of water. Indoor pool swimming is the best choice, especially if you don’t want your workouts limited by weather (hello, summer storms) and seasons.
Sarasota Memorial’s medically integrated fitness center, HealthFit, features two indoor pools ideally suited for both beginners and advanced swimmers. The spacious, uncrowded, 25-yard lap pool has four dedicated, marked lanes for lap-swimming. The handicap-accessible therapy pool is shallow and warm, perfect for stretching or exercise.
Those who prefer guidance and group exercise classes may enjoy pool-based aerobics or tai chi. HealthFit offers a full slate of aqua classes to suit all fitness levels and wellness goals. The aqua classes provide a low impact way to get a full-body workout with cardiovascular and resistance exercises. (The best part: After class or laps, you can relax in the hot tub or steam room!)