News flash: It’s hot out here in southwest Florida. This kind of weather can put a real damper on exercise routines, especially if you like to go outside to stretch your legs and work your aerobic capacity. Good thing you’ve got a pool, right?
In these summer temperatures, exercising outdoors can be quite dangerous, so swimming is a great way to keep the body cool and ward off issues like heat stroke. Of course, that’s just one of the many benefits of swimming for exercise.
The New York Times recently published an article about a study that compared the hearts of elite runners and elite swimmers. Not surprisingly, the study showed that both groups of experienced, world-class athletes had amazing hearts. (Can you imagine a resting heart rate of 50 BPM?!) You don’t need any special clothing or equipment; just jump on in and you’re on your way to improved fitness.
That being said, another advantage of swimming for exercise is that it can be kinder to your heart than running. As the article notes, runners’ hearts are working against gravity: When you’re exercising upright, the blood has to be forced down into the feet and then all the way back up again.
Swimmers—whose bodies stay relatively horizontal—don’t have to contend as much with that downward force. When your arms and legs and head are all on the same plane as your heart, your heart can be more efficient in getting blood to all those places and back.
Likewise, swimming is low-impact, so it offers a full-body workout without detriment to your joints.
And you don’t have to swim laps to reap the benefits of a pool workout. Anything from walking back and forth through the shallow end to full-blown water aerobics can get your blood pumping and muscles working. You can also use your body’s buoyancy in the pool to work on stretching and range of motion.
Best of all, being in the water brings its own brand of relaxation and wellbeing, unlike any other physical setting. The support and resistance and envelopment of the cool water, the dampening of sound when you dip below the surface, the feeling of moving back and forth in something other than air—all of these things take the regular benefits of exercise and turn them into a next-level sort of meditative experience.
What more reason do you need to step away from the screen? It’s time for a swim.