Swimming: A Workout for Every Part of You
Swimming is a full-body workout. There is continuous resistance with every movement. You get the benefit of working all of your large muscle groups without ever having to pick up a free weight. Use this guide to focus on each part of your body while doing your workout.
Glutes – To shift focus to your glutes, warm up by treading water and then switch over to practicing breaststroke and dolphin kicks. For an easier modification, simply stand in place and raise each leg one at a time to the front, back, and side.
Core– Every stroke in the pool recruits your core to some degree. To focus on the core, tighten those muscles when doing flip turns. While doing freestyle, keep the body straight and tighten the core as you extend your arms. Swimming also increases flexibility. Increased flexibility means decreased chance for injury. After a tough workout, a dip in the pool can help reduce toxins that cause soreness.
Chest – To focus on the chest, practice butterfly or incorporate pool weights. When using weights, push from your core–out and back in again. The resistance from the water makes the movements even more effective, strengthening your chest without putting undue pressure on your joints.
Shoulders – Using the resistance of the water to your advantage, focus on pulling motions to strengthen your shoulders. To enhance the pulling motion, you can add a pool noodle between your legs and use hand paddles. For an easier shoulder exercise, use the pool weights while standing to push forward, down, in circles, and out to the side.
Legs – After a lifetime (or even a week) of vigorous exercise, swimming can be just what the doctor ordered. Water reduces the load on your joints and makes movement easier. Many people run in the water to alleviate the pressure of running on land. To focus on your legs, incorporate kicks into your routines. This can be done by kicking in a streamline position or with a kickboard.
Heart – Like many aerobic exercises, swimming can improve your heart and lung capacity. For increased heart health, try long distance swimming or any kind of aerobic exercise in the water, such as swimming laps or taking a group exercise class. These activities can be effective for weight loss and also benefit your heart. According to active.com, a 155-pound person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn approximately 704 calories at a brisk pace and 493 calories at a slower pace. A 180-pound person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn approximately 817 calories at a brisk pace and 572 calories at a slower pace.
Mind – A study conducted by the Department of Physiology at NKP Salve Institute of Medical Sciences found that swimming and yoga are equally effective at reducing anxiety. Like yoga, swimming requires focus. Any form of aerobic exercise can help reduce stress, but by focusing your attention on your movements in the pool, you can escape the pressures bearing down on you from everyday life.
To work out every part of your body and mind, just add water!
Check out the pool schedule, aquatics group exercise classes and information on swim lessons at an acac club near you: