Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Health Benefits of Lap Swimming

It's been about two weeks since I got back in the pool to do some lap swimming and I gotta tell you, I'm already addicted. As a youngster growing up I swam on year around swim teams for about 6 years. Throughout that time I was one of the healthiest kids in school. When it came time for my schools annual physical fitness test I was always in the top of my class. Other kids would ask me why I was in such good shape. I would tell them it was because I swim everyday. Most kids couldn't understand how swimming was actually exercise.

As an adult I've mostly stuck to cycling as a my preferred form of cardio, and weight lifting for building muscle. It's been great, but at times maybe a little hard on my body. The long distances I ride can sometimes leave me feeling very stiff and sore in my lower back. Now that I've re-introduced myself to swimming however, I have noticed some very positive changes in both my physical capabilities as well as the amount of pain I experience post workout.

Swimming is a very low impact sport that can be continued throughout your life into your golden years. Even if you suffer from an injury, chances are a doctor will always recommend swimming as a form of rehabilitation. Why? Lap swimming is not only a great source of cardio, it helps to strengthen your heart and lungs, and is a great way to tone your entire body. Because it's so low impact on the joints you'll be able to workout without having to endure the pains associated with other types of exercise.

I've heard every excuse why someone would choose not to lap swim. Here's the two most common reasons I hear.

  • "It's too cold to go swimming". Most athletic facilities that offer a lap pool keep it heated at about 60 to 70 degrees. After the initial shock of jumping in you'll quickly warm up within a minute or two of starting your swim.
  • "I don't want anyone to see my body". If your worried about your physical image, don't be. There are more people who are out of shape than in shape in this country. If it really bothers you just go out to the pool with a towel or two around your body. Once you jump in nobody will even notice you, not that they were concerned about it anyway.

If your just getting started, you may want to see if any of the athletic clubs or swim teams in your area offer a beginners class. You'll be pleased to see other people just like yourself making the effort to get healthy by starting a lap swimming routine. Before you go you'll need to purchase a swim suit, a pair of goggles, ear plugs, and a swim cap. Check your local listings to find a swim store near you so you can try on your equipment to assure a proper fit. After that you can probably save a few bucks by ordering your gear online. Once you have the basic gear your ready to get started. Later you may want to expand your gear to include a gear bag, a pair of fins, hand paddles, a  kick-boardpersonal lap counter, and this super cool underwater mp3 player .

Swimming is not only healthy , it's fun. Take it easy at first and don't get discouraged. The investment you make in your health now will pay huge dividends down the road. So what are you waiting for? Start looking for a pool :)

Fun Factoid:
Did you know?
You can burn upwards of 900 calories in just one hour of lap swimming.

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