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2011 - Volume 1 Issue 1
Vida Fronteriza
Health & Wellness
Article: Charlotte Tallman
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For many, swimming is the perfect exercise – it works the whole body, while improving cardiovascular conditioning, muscle strength, flexibility, posture, circulation and endurance. A swimmer’s cardiovascular system improves the use of oxygen without overworking the heart and swimming burns more calories in one hour than a run will. Overall, swimming does the body good.

    Swimming has been around a long time. Cave drawings from the Stone Age illustrate swimmers in the water, Egyptian clay seals depict swimmers and swimming references are made in Greek poems.
According to the Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports, swimming was required of knights, and Romans built bathhouses and pools in the places they conquered for fun and exercise, but competitive swimming didn’t seem to hit the water until the 1800s. The first modern Olympic Game in 1896 included swimming, and the sport continued to grow as indoor and outdoor pools began to pop up.

Swimming offers a low risk for injury since there is no stress on bones or connective tissues because of buoyancy, making it a universal exercise for both the young and old. Improved blood pressure can lower a swimmers risk for heart disease and stroke and swimming is a proven stress reliever, allowing more oxygen to flow to the muscles and forcing a swimmer to regulate breathing.

Don’t forget about water aerobics while you are in the water – because of the water buoyancy, the body weight lightens – allowing the water to support 80 percent of the body’s weight. That support leads to less strain on joints, back and torso. The reduced gravitational pull in the water also increases flexibility of the body, and overall, water aerobics increase strength and balance.

Convinced Swimming or Water Aerobics are for You?
First, visit your primary care provider and make sure they agree, then follow the tips below to get the most out of the water.

  • Find a suit. Finding a good suit to wear when in the water is very important. You want to pick a suit that is snug and doesn’t creep or crawl. You don’t want to be picking and pulling a suit the whole time you are in the water.

  • Be picky. You want to make sure you pick a good, clean pool. Visit pools ahead of time to make sure you pick one that is clean, along with the tile, grout and dressing room. The water should be clean and have enough chlorine to kill bacteria, but not enough to burn your eyes. Make sure there is safety equipment by the pool, and licensed professionals nearby to help in case of an emergency.

  • Find a professional. Finding an instructor Red Cross CPR certified means you have someone specially trained to help in an emergency (and more than likely a lot more legit than someone who is not trained) and if you can, train with someone who is specially trained in water fitness and aerobics.

  • Start slowly. Starting any exercise slowly can help you develop a love for it. Rushing in and trying to accomplish a week’s worth of swimming in one session might be too overwhelming for you and your body. Beginning swimmers should start with 12-20 minutes of swimming or 40 minutes of water aerobics (if your primary care provider approves), building up time as the strokes and breathing become more efficient.

  • Freestyle it. Moving your arms in a windmill motion while rotating the body and breathing on the side as the arm comes out of the water is an excellent stroke. This stroke works the biceps, triceps, chest, back, core and legs.

  • But don’t forget the other strokes. Swimming strokes are plentiful. There is the backstroke, butterfly, trudgen, breaststroke, dog paddle, human stroke and even a survival travel stroke. Each works the muscles in a different way, allowing swimmers to switch up the routine.

  • Keep it smooth. When swimming and participating in water aerobics, there should be limited splashing, signifying a smooth stroke with little underwater jerking.

  • Make sure it is effective swimming. Have someone familiar with swimming watch you as you swim. They can make sure you have the proper techniques while swimming, which will make the exercise an effective one.

  • Focus on your breathing. The more efficient the breathing while swimming, the more productive the aerobic energy system will become. The backstroke and freestyle are the most aerobic swimming strokes, however, if the breathing is off, the stroke won’t help much when you have to stop too soon.

  • Wear the right shoes. Shoes aren’t typically worn for swimming, but they do come in handy for water aerobics. Wearing water shoes for water aerobics helps your feet keep their grip and gives the ankles support. The coverage also keeps feet safe from cuts and scrapes if the pool’s surface is rough. ///
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