Tag Archives: swimming

5 Reasons to Swim this Summer

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.

Coach Meredith

 

Keys to a Great Swim Workout

It’s summer!  If you didn’t know already, the last few days have certainly proven it.  Exercising outdoors during the other three seasons is easy when compared to the heat and humidity of June, July and August.  That’s the problem with these nice, beach weather filled months: you’re hot before you even start.  The heat is bad enough, but toss in some famous East Coast humidity, and anything on the outer side of a door can be unbearable.  Good thing you learned all about the joys of swimming last week, and hopefully, you gave it a try.  Swimming is a wonderful way to prevent heat stroke, and after this, you’ll know how to get a fantastic workout from the pool.

  • Try different strokes.  You know the old cliché, different strokes for different folks, and it’s true.  Find the one that suits you best, where you are most comfortable, and do the bulk of your swimming there.  Try a few laps in Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Sidestroke to get your comfort level up then start building up the laps.
  • Swim steady.  Keep a steady pace, hopefully there isn’t a race going on in the next lane, so you just stick to your own pace and power through the water.
  • Breathe.  Once you’ve chosen your stroke, practice breathing.  Get comfortable with your face in the water, and establish a rhythm for your breathing.  Exhale under the water, so when you turn up to breathe, your lungs are ready to go.  This prevents quick, shallow breathing that can occur when trying to both exhale and inhale on one turn of the head.  You can even try breathing on both sides to help keep your stroke even.
  • Mix it up.  That stroke you’ve decided you love?  Leave it on dry land for a day.  Working one or two other strokes challenges your muscles as well as your breathing pattern.
  • Freestyle is the most familiar, popular and easy to master stroke of the group.  Use it to warm-up to loosen up your body, and for getting in lots of laps, it’s the only choice.
  • Backstroke is great for recovery as well as stretching out the shoulders and chest.  As a bonus, breathing is exceedingly simple.  Put a little backstroke in your warm-up too, but also use it to cool down.
  • Breaststroke is tough, but is wonderful at keeping your legs flexible.  It stretches out all the big leg muscles as well as the groin and will help prevent cramping.
  • Sidestroke is relaxing, and like backstroke, makes breathing fairly simple.  Make sure you do this stroke on your left and right to keep strength, mobility, and motor skills equally strong on both sides of your body.

There are some great ideas for keeping busy in the pool, so go get wet!