Stay cool and fit in the water this summer
Don’t let soaring temperatures keep you from working out this summer; hit the pool! So much emphasis is placed on getting kids summer swimming lessons, we often overlook the benefits of swimming and water fitness for adults, and that’s a shame. Swimming is an ideal cardio workout that can strengthen your entire body. It’s also idea for people recovering from injuries or with a host of issues including chronic pain, diabetes, or arthritic joints. The average person can burn up to 700 calories per hour swimming fast. And unlike the other high-impact sports, swimming is truly something you can do for life.
If you own a pool or have access to a community pool, or even better a swimmable lake or the ocean –take advantage of it to start swimming laps. Here are a few pointers:
- Never swim alone: No matter how good a swimmer you are–even Olympic athletes follow this rule—never do it alone. You can encounter unforeseen dangers like a sudden leg cramp, a seizure or heart attack that make it impossible for you to swim. Be safe!
- Hydrate: Yes, swimmers can be dehydrated. Keep a water bottle next to the pool so you can hydrate before, during and after your workout.
- Start slow: but commit to doing it. Some experts suggest committing to swimming three times a week, 30 minutes per workout. Keep track of your laps and try each time to increase your laps every time.
- Gear up: At a minimum: Invest in a good bathing suit, pair of goggles and earplugs (if you tend to get water in your ears). Also helpful are workouts tools such as a pull buoy, a piece of foam that swimmers place between their legs to keep them buoyant while they focus on using their arms to swim. Hand paddles are another way to develop your upper body strength in the pool. Alternatively, kickboards are used for workouts focusing on your legs, hips and stomach muscles. In addition, a swim cap will also help protect your hair from the effects of pool chlorine.
- Join a program: Sometimes the best way to stay motivated and learn new skills is to join a club. Cities such as New York run adult summer swim fitness programs. From July 5- Aug. 30, the NYC Parks Department runs a Lap Swim Program with morning and evening hours at its public pools where adults can swim laps uninterrupted. City and town public pools around the country run similar programs or set aside a few lanes of a pool to always have lap swimming.
- Get Competitive: Consider joining U.S. Masters Swimming, which promotes the health, fitness and social benefits of swimming through more than 2,000 adult swimming programs and events. It hosts open-water and pool competitions for adults age 18-99, with more than 60,000 members. Its website is chockablock with written resources and videos to help you improve your swim technique—everything from your stroke and breathing to your kick.
If you’re an athlete who wants to mix up their swimming with online high-intensity workout, there are options for you, too. Dan Daly a coach at the Equinox health club in New York City’s Columbus Circle location, is co-creator of a 20-minute pool workout that combines dry-land and pool workouts, with the water-based boot camp “designed to be both high intensity and low-impact.” Daly says his workout is designed for competitive swimmers, triathletes and fitness buffs looking to diversify their training.
And if swimming laps isn’t your preference, water aerobics are no longer reserved for seniors wielding pool noodles. Athletes, especially injured ones trying to get back into shape, are tapping into water cardio workouts such as this one from Livestrong, which will get anyone’s heart racing. It includes scissor-kicks to, jumping jacks and treading water. Deep Water Running, also called aqua jogging, is another great way to stay in shape, and ideal for injured runners or runners trying to prevent injuries. And if you don’t know how to swim, there are countless adult-swim classes available at rec centers across the country to get you started. So next time you take your kids to the community pool or beach and want to hit the recliner with a book, figure out how to get a workout in for yourself, too. You’ll be glad you did.