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My Favorite Way To Stay In Shape

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By Elyssa-Beth Bender

Courtesy: Better Health

My love for swimming began when I was a baby; I would swim in my baby pool, the bathtub, and was the most “confident” four year old my swimming lessons class ever saw. My love for swimming grew as I joined the youth swim team and continued through high school. Although I like to swim for fun, swimming has opened up my eyes to the many health benefits it holds.  Though I don’t swim competitively anymore, swimming is still a part of my daily life, and still one of my favorite ways to exercise.

Swimming for recreation

Swimming is a great recreational activity for people of all ages. Recreational swimming can provide you with a low-impact workout and it’s also a good way to relax and feel good. Common swimming styles in recreational swimming are breaststroke, backstroke, side stroke, butterfly and freestyle.

Competitive swimming

Some people who enjoy swimming want to take it to a competitive level. This can provide the health benefits of a vigorous workout as well as the fun and thrill of competition. The main strokes used in competitive swimming are breaststroke, freestyle, backstroke and butterfly. The distances swum in competition swimming can vary from 50 meters in a pool to much further distances in open water.

Health benefits of swimming

Swimming is a great workout because you need to move your whole body against the resistance of the water.

Swimming is a good all-round activity because it:

  • keeps your heart rate up, but takes some of the impact stress off your body
  • builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness
  • helps maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs
  • tones muscles and builds strength
  • provides an all-over body workout, as nearly all of your muscles are used during swimming.
  • provides both an aerobic and anaerobic work out.
  • very therapeutic and great for rehabilitating injuries.

Other benefits of swimming

Swimming has many other benefits including:

  • being a relaxing and peaceful form of exercise
  • alleviating stress
  • improving coordination, balance and posture
  • improving flexibility
  • providing good low-impact therapy for some injuries and conditions
  • providing a pleasant way to cool down on a hot day
  • being available in many places – you can swim in swimming pools, beaches, lakes, dams and rivers. Make sure that the environment you choose to swim in is safe.

Getting started with swimming

Getting started in swimming is easy. It is a sport for all age groups, skill and fitness levels. Before you get started, you will need to purchase a pair of swimmers and some goggles. Goggles can be purchased for around $15 and upwards.

There are public pools throughout communities that are open to everyone. Entry to public pools usually costs a few dollars and many aquatic centers offer swimming lessons for people of all ages, as well as training and exercise groups.

Some general tips for swimming

Before you dive in:

  • Make sure you know how to swim.
  • Choose a safe environment.
  • Warm up and stretch your muscles and joints before entering the water.
  • Have plenty of fluids on hand and drink regularly.
  • Don’t overdo it if you’re just starting out.
  • See your doctor if you haven’t exercised for a long time.

Things to remember

  • As well as being fun, swimming is a great way to keep fit and well and make friends.
  • Swimming is a healthy activity that you can continue for a lifetime.
  • Swimming is a low-impact activity that has many physical and mental health benefits.
  • Make sure you know how to swim and do so in a safe environment.
 
 

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