Body Buzz – Into The Blue
by Sasha Kanal
Want to get stronger, trimmer and fitter in time for the warmer weather? Then get swimming! Come on in, the water’s lovely…
While it may not match the easy, everyday convenience of heading out for a quick run or a stroll, swimming is a wonderful way to get your body moving to shape up and slim down. It’s also a good route to introducing some variation into your fitness regime, as it works the body in different ways with the added benefit of putting zero stress on your joints.
Making a Splash
An easy swimming routine can burn up to 500 calories per hour for an average sized person, with as much as 700 calories burned with more vigorous effort. In addition to blasting those calories while you swim, your body is also effectively undergoing a resistance workout, that’s because water is 800 times denser than air. This in turn builds lean muscle, vital for boosting your metabolism, ensuring that you continue to burn calories long after you’ve stopped exercising. Because swimming is so kind to your joints and puts you at minimal risk of injury (water offsets the effects of gravity), it’s a great workout for the older generation or those worried about impacting their joints. In fact recent scientific research has revealed that people who swim regularly are biologically up to 20 years younger than their actual age, with swimming shown to benefit their cognitive function, cardiovascular health, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
For those new to swimming regularly or who haven’t donned their swimsuit in a while, a novel approach is needed to start things off gently and get the best from your regime. This is because swimming requires your muscles and heart to work differently than they do when exercising out of the water, as well as your lungs having to adjust to a new way of breathing. Instead of going at it solidly using one stroke for half an hour, (which will leave you exhausted, depleted and probably bored), the key is to break your swim down into shorter segments and introduce some variety with different strokes and rest intervals.
In the Mix
Alternate between breaststroke and backstroke. The first gives a great hip and inner thigh muscle workout and backstrok improves core and posture because it works the back and shoulder muscles. Make sure you are doing each stroke correctly and effectively – there are plenty of online tutorials to help you or better still sign up to a refresher course at your local leisure centre to really feel the benefits. With all manner of watery opportunities out there this summer (seaside, indoor and outdoor pools and wild swimming anyone?), there’s no excuse not to be ‘in the swim’.
CAUTION: If you are unsure of any new exercise regime please consult your GP before commencing.