By Lori Cipolla
This is the perfect time of year to dive into the sport of swimming. There is no greater way to work out and burn calories. This type of exercise can be high-intensity while remaining low-impact. The great thing about the water is that it takes pressure off your joints making water an ideal option for someone recovering from an iinjury, a person with arthritis, or someone who suffers from joint weakness that comes with age. Water offer a whole body exercise that is beneficial for blood circulation, strengthening muscle tone and is great for the respiratory system.
There are some important safety issues to make yourself aware of prior to engaging in swim exercises. Whether you are just starting out or can practically swim in your sleep, you should stretch first. Reaching-up and arm-up are two solid stretches for shoulder strength and rotator cuffs. I also recommend stretching your hamstrings, quads and calves to prevent cramping. Avoid swimming alone or without supervision in case of over exhaustion or any other type of an emergency situation. Just like any other sport, there are different exercises for every level. So, if you’re not swimming like a fish, don’t worry! There’s a place for you to start off too.
- Start in shallow-end –and yes, the water is your resistance.
- Begin with jumping jacks. Try to engage your core even more than you would when you do traditional jumping jacks; keep yourself suspended in the water when bringing your feet back to center. Push back out to do the next one. Do a set of 15 jumping jacks.
- Next, lean back to the edge of pool with your elbows. Here you will engage your shoulders and keep your upper body up-right. Use your legs to do a bicycle movement. Bicycle for 45 seconds.
- Next are plié jumps. Keep your knees bent outward with your heels together, jump out of the water and return to plié. Do 10 reps of these.
- Then, go back to the edge of the pool, face towards the center of the pool and this time, keep your arms extended across the ledge. With both legs pointing towards the bottom of the pool, raise both legs up (at the same time) as high as you can go and then slowly bring them back down. Repeat this exercise for 12 reps.
- Lastly, using an aqua fitness barbell, you can perform bicep curls in the water. Complete 10 full-range motion bicep curls underwater while in the shallow end of the pool.
After you have performed this entire sequence, rest for 2 minutes and repeat the circuit for another two sets for a total of three circuits. Work your way up to five complete circuits.
If you’re not new to the water and are very comfortable with making laps in the pool this exercise may be more for you. This is written out in yards as opposed to laps. First, warm-up with walking from one side of the pool to the other (walk in water between waist and chest-deep water) Do this 10 times then turn walking into skipping for 10 more times.
- Complete four, 50-yard laps, resting for 30 seconds in between each 50-yard lap. Each 50-yard lap should be a different stroke: freestyle, then breaststroke, backstroke and finally, butterfly.
- Complete twelve, 50-yard laps rotating every third lap begin with the butterfly, then move to the backstroke, breaststroke and lastly the freestyle. Rest for 20 seconds in between each 50-yard lap.
- Complete one, 100-yard lap. Begin with the butterfly and alternate to the breaststroke, backstroke and lastly, the freestyle.
- Cool down with the 100-yard swim in a relaxed, slow manner while using all four strokes.
This is just a small tip of the iceberg, there are many options and sequences of exercises. Swimming can also be done during the cooler months by going to a facility that has a heated indoor pool. There are places that offer aqua aerobics, aqua rehabilitation and physical therapy recreational pools and swimming lessons to those who are ready to take on the water but need to learn the basics.
Lori Cipolla from Cranston, RI is a Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist. She is a figure athlete, wife, mom of 5 and Fitmark Bags Ambassador. She can be reached at [email protected] gmail.com.