If one of your goals for 2023 is to get more active, then there’s never been a better time to take the plunge. Swimming is a low-impact, non-contact activity with health benefits – and it’s the only exercise that won’t get you hot and sweaty, which is why it’s the coolest.
A Global Health Crisis
According to a recent report, 51% of the world’s population is expected to be overweight or obese by 2035. A hard pill to swallow, yes, but also an opportunity to relook at our health and fitness goals.
For many, starting an exercise regime can be overwhelming. Traditional workouts may be limiting, and for those looking to get the whole family in on the action, it’s hard to decide where to start. Luckily, hitting the pool offers a fantastic full-body workout, especially for those who have been sedentary in recent months.
Longevity Benefits of Swimming
Swimming gets your heart rate up and burns calories without impacting bones and joints. A few laps also fire up more of the body’s major muscle groups than many other cardio activities, helping to tone muscles and build strength. It engages the legs, the upper body (especially the lats), and the muscles of the middle back and triceps.
Aside from the above benefits, establishing a regular swimming routine:
Provides a full-body workout
Swimming works in almost every part of the body because you use your arms and legs to push against the water, which builds strength and increases your cardiovascular fitness. In fact, swimming has a similar growth effect on muscle fibers as sprinting and powerlifting.
Supports weight loss
The combination of elevated heart rate, full-body effort, and resistance makes for a powerful calorie burn. Swimming is also especially good for those already carrying extra weight because it avoids putting extra stress on the joints.
Helps with problematic joints
Whether you have bad knees after years of running, are recovering from an injury, or have arthritis, joint pain can derail fitness. Swimming is low-impact, but high-resistance. This means you get a great workout with minimal or no joint pain or damage.
And the very best part about swimming?
Anyone of any age and fitness level can hop in and get started straight away – swimming is for everyone. Even people with serious physical disabilities can do a pool workout with the right equipment. Swimming can be safe and beneficial for pregnant women, children, adults with asthma, and even babies – with supervision of course.
Tips on how to start a swim routine
1. Ensure that you and your family can swim
This may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s important to check yourself before starting. Whether you can swim a full lap or can only do the basic strokes to keep your head above water, your capabilities will have a huge influence on how you start and achieve your training goals.
Have a proper assessment and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
2. Start off and build up your strength and endurance
Take your time to build up fitness and good form. Start simple with easy intervals of 30 seconds or one length. Take a break in between and repeat up to ten times. See how you feel and adjust to your next workout.
Increase and diversify your laps with new strokes. As with any activity, it’s possible to overtrain, and believe it or not you can get injured swimming.
3. Get the right equipment
Although swimming is a simple sport, there are a few things you’ll need to get started and to have a good experience.
- A comfortable, durable swimsuit that fits well.
- A good pair of goggles.
- A swim cap and towel.
Consider getting some extras too. What you wear are the basics, but you may also want your own fins, a kickboard, and a pull-buoy. The latter floats your legs, so you can focus on arm work. These types of swim equipment are usually available if you’re training in a club.
The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the process. The water isn’t only a place to work out, it’s also a sanctuary where we can disengage from the stress of everyday life and slip into an immersive form of mindfulness – the weight of the world becomes less when you’re weightless in water.
MAIN IMAGE CREDIT:| Kzenon/Shutterstock
Who is the author?
Johann Strauss has 20 Years of experience in the health & fitness industry across South Africa and the United Kingdom. He has held numerous leadership positions during this period and was the National Head of Operations for Virgin Active Red before moving over to National Swim Manager for Virgin Active to lead 145 pools and grow its business potential.
Johann has an extensive record of achievements, including 2-Star awards during his tenure with the Virgin Active Group. He is passionate about creating a culture of excellence, leading and inspiring people to excel, and executing business strategy.