Need a break from the heat of training on the road or in a hot gym? It’s time to go for a swim! Swimming has lots of benefits that transfer over well into other sports without a loss of fitness or increased risk of injury. If you live near a beach, river or lake, hop in. Natural bodies of water provide nice scenery and you might make friends with some wildlife (be sure it’s safe and you’re allowed to be there before diving in). If you have pool access, head there, grabbing a swim cap and pair of goggles on the way. Luckily, no matter where you swim, you’ll reap these five benefits.
Spending one hour swimming freestyle in a pool can burn tons of calories. How many? Up to 590 calories for a 130 pound person and close to 1,000 for someone who’s 205. Add swimming against the current and that number can increase quite a bit. Of course, these numbers vary based on your weight, metabolism, what stroke you’re using and how fast you’re moving but with the water to keep you cool, it beats an hour baking in the sun.
Going for a swim can help build strength. Water provides 12-14% more resistance than air (unless you have a nasty headwind) while using 2/3 of the body’s muscles with each movement. Because you use both sides of your body evenly to swim in a straight line it’s also a good tool to help eliminate muscle imbalances and increase flexibility.
If you’re fighting an injury getting in the water is a great way to maintain fitness while letting yourself heal completely. Not currently injured? Swimming can reduce your risk of injury in the future. Because it’s low impact, spending your recovery day in the pool might be better for your bones, muscles and mind than an easy run. Swimming helps to strengthen joints without pounding them while the horizontal position improves respiratory control and circulation, a key factor in quality healing.
When you decide to go for a swim it doesn’t have to mean staring down at a lane marker for an hour. Lots of options are available for those who want to explore doing more than racking up the laps. You can strap on some weights and run in the deep end, try Aqua-Zumba or aqua-aerobics, mix it up by swimming one lap using only your legs and the next only your arms.
Whether you’re swimming in the ocean with a training group or at the local gym with your neighbors, you’re bound to end up with a few swim buddies. Triathletes, swimmers and recovering runners love to talk about their sport and that can lead to some long lasting friendships.
Skip the sunblock and go for a swim this summer. You’ll maintain your fitness, stay injury free and avoid all heat related dangers completely.