Taking The Plunge

Think of a child and how much enjoyment he or she gets out of the water. Babies splashing in the tub, children running into the waves at the beach or playing and shouting in the pool are images that usually come to mind. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to swim in a hotel pool with my family, and we had a great time. You don’t have to be a child to enjoy the water and receive an effective workout at the same time.

Swimming ranks as high as walking as one of the near-perfect exercises for women. It’s also often the number one choice of exercise for those with limitations or without, as it creates no stress on joints like impact activities such as walking or jogging sometimes produce. Aquatic exercise is the wave of the future for fitness, as well as for rehabilitation from injuries. Because water provides buoyancy and support for the body, when you are neck deep in water, you only have to support 10% of your body parts. In fact, if you’re already having trouble with your knees, hips, or lower back, swimming may be one of the only exercises that will work well for you.

Water provides more resistance than air because of its density. Your muscles have to work much harder in water than they do in air. Water workouts can be just as intense as those done on land. But unlike land, water cushions joints, decreasing injury risk. In addition, the compression caused by water’s density decreases edema and swelling.

Swimming‘s benefits don’t end there. Due to its non-impact nature, swimming is often an excellent form of exercise for those who suffer from arthritis or back injuries. For those who suffer from asthma, swimming in an enclosed pool is ideal, because it’s done in a warm, humid setting.

If you’re overweight, swimming is easier than many land exercises. The water lifts you and gives you freedom of movement. If you’re pregnant, you’ll enjoy the same benefits and will find swimming a great way to stay fit.

For some women, swimming can be an incentive to stay fit. If you can’t get away with a baggy t-shirt hanging over your bathing suit, you’ll probably find yourself using extra care to pass up a brownie or bag of chips if you know you’re going to be wearing your bathing suit tomorrow.

In some sports, you might feel self-conscious or uncoordinated if you can’t master the same moves the experts do. But with swimming, you don’t have to be good at it. If you can’t do the butterfly stroke, so what? If you do the crawl, the backstroke or sidestroke, or even the doggie paddle – you’ll still reap fitness benefits and enjoy yourself.

By working your large muscle groups – legs and arms – swimming burns plenty of calories. It also strengthens your heart and lungs, and boosts your endurance if you keep at it. If you keep in motion at least 20-30 minutes at least three times a week, you will find yourself on the road to a new level of cardiovascular fitness. And more often than women realize, you will be using your abs. If you concentrate on maintaining good form for whatever stroke you’re doing, you’re working the abdominal section of your body, rarely noticing it’s happening!

If you have children, you’ll find the pool an entertaining place even for babies. The bonus of taking your kids to the pool is – you’re making them safer. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming instruction for children. Exposure to water helps children learn the simple stuff like staying afloat.

Take the plunge – stay fit, stay wet!

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