The summer heat often tends to keep people indoors with the air conditioning blasting and fans on high cooling them off. While summertime brings longer days, a little more leisure time and often vacations, it can also put a wrench in your usual exercise routine. Walking and running are great cardio workouts, but in the heat, they can often be dangerous. This time of year can be a great time to experiment with your workout regimen and incorporate things like water sports and swimming into your routine. Swimming has some incredible benefits that can keep you in shape and prevent you from overheating during a summer workout.
Swimming is a great low-impact workout, especially for those who suffer from joint pain. If you are a runner, your joints and spine take a blow with each step. Swimming eliminates any impact on your joints that can cause injury or pain. When you are swimming, the water creates a buoyancy for your body that counters the effects of gravity. This helps to support your body’s weight and gives you a more controlled and wider range of motion compared to exercising on land. It can also improve your balance and strengthen your core.
The water also creates a natural resistance creating friction that you must work against. The viscosity of water gives you the opportunity to strengthen your muscles without weights. You can also strengthen an injury safely – preventing falls due to imbalance while on land. Even if you aren’t rehabbing an injury, you can define and tone your muscles with some simple maneuvers in the pool. While in chest-deep water, you can work both your upper and lower body. If you assume a wide stance, jump so that your knees rise above the water, and then land safely back on the pool’s floor, your abs will get a nice workout. You can do arm movements underwater to help strengthen your back and shoulders. If you feel like these moves are too easy, you can wear water gloves or other resistance accessories to make things a bit tougher.
Finally, water puts hydrostatic pressure on the body. Hydrostatic pressure is caused by the weight of fluid putting equal pressure on the fluids in our body. The pressure you feel when you enter the water is good for you! The pressure forces your heart and lungs to work a little bit harder compared to regular exercise. In fact, doing even minimal activity in the pool works out your heart and lungs in a very different way than they are used to. Regular pool workouts can actually allow you to take in more air during land exercises. So, by taking a dip, you are conditioning your body to be a more efficient runner, too.
However, you should be cautious when starting a new exercise plan, especially in the water. If you are new to the pool, take extreme care and make sure you have proper safety accessories. There are other water sports that commonly cause injury. If you don’t ensure that you are employing proper form during swimming, you can cause neck and back strains. The lower back can become hyperextended during front strokes. The neck can also be jerked backward repeatedly when taking breaths. It is important to maintain proper form, use safety tools, follow pool rules and consult with your doctor before beginning any water exercise program. More importantly, have fun and stay cool this summer!