Swimming: The Benefits of Getting All Wet

I’ve heard all the excuses: chlorine dries out my hair, I don’t have a swim suit, my goggles leak, I can’t get the breathing, the water is cold, and it’s boring.

The benefits of swimming are superior to any other activity. Here are compelling reasons to drop the excuses and take the plunge.

Swimming is a phenomenal aerobic workout that strengthens your heart and works your respiratory system. The non-weight bearing nature of swimming reduces the risk of injuries allowing for longer and more intense workouts. Those with injuries or limited mobility can get fit while swimming.

Swimming provides an incredible strength workout for your entire body. With each arm stroke, the muscles of your arms, chest, back and shoulders work against the water’s resistance. Muscles in your lower body—hamstrings, quadriceps and buttocks—are toned as you kick. Core muscles are engaged with each pull, kick, push off and breath.

Swimming is therapeutic. The hydrostatic pressure and cool water promote blood flow and remove waste products from muscles. Swimming, after a hard workout, is active recovery that is more effective than even rest. Sore, tired or injured muscles will heal faster if you swim. The long strokes of freestyle and backstroke stretch muscles from fingertips to toes, increasing flexibility.

Swimming is relaxing and helps reduce stress. The water makes us feel nearly weightless. Attention is focused on breathing, which brings oxygen to muscles and calms your body and mind.

Swimming’s popularity is on the upswing as aging boomers look for ways to stay active without getting injured. Adult swim lesson, masters teams, camps, and books are enjoying a surge in interest. Take a few lessons to learn correct technique, which makes swimming more enjoyable. According to Andy Grevers, head coach for Northwestern Aquatic Swimming Association, “The best way for newer swimmers to get started is by spending your first few weeks working on technique and building endurance through kicking. If you are able to create a solid foundation through your legs, you will be able to execute drills and technique with ease.”

Now is the time to take up this lifelong sport. Check out the following for more information:

U.S. Masters Swimming (for a complete listing of the over 70 swim groups in Illinois)

Total Immersion (camps, books and DVDs)

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