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Swim, Not Gym

By Aarti Patel Email By Aarti Patel
May 2014
Swim, Not Gym

As summer temperatures rise, the pool is ideal for staying cool and getting a good workout.

Exercising in the pool is not only refreshing but also tends to produce less of an impact on the joints than other activities such as running, jumping, and sprinting. Water has a cooling, de-stressing effect, while minimizing the risk of heat exhaustion/stroke during the summer months. The buoyancy of the water reduces the chance of injury by providing a safe range of motion. Depending on the intensity, a 30-minute pool workout can easily burn from 300-500 calories while improving cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and endurance. Water resistance training provides a great alternative exercise to those with health challenges such as arthritis because of its soothing non-impact effect. Working out in the water is fun and safe for all fitness levels. During summer vacations, it is an enjoyable way to maintain your fitness without having to go to the gym. And the best part is that you don’t necessarily have to know how to swim to get a good workout. Here are two workouts—one for the non-swimmer and another one for the swimmer—that can be done during summer months or even be taken with you on your vacation!

Before beginning the workout, remember to always to keep a water bottle handy and hydrate yourself. These workouts can be done any time of the day, but if the pool is busy, then it’s best to get it done early in the morning. Remember to consult your health care provider before you begin any exercise program and take it at your own pace. For this workout you will need a stopwatch (water-proof, of course) and a pool ball, and yes, don’t forget to layer on the sunscreen.

For non-swimmers:
Water walk: Walk in a brisk pace from one side of the pool to the other for five minutes in the shallow end, moving arms in a back-and-forth motion.

Water jacks with ball: Stand with feet close together, and holding a pool ball with arms straight out in front of you, do a jumping jack, raising arms above your head with the ball and then lowering it as you bring your feet together. Perform 30 times.

Water jumps: Holding on to the side of the pool, propel yourself and jump up as high up as you can for one minute.

Water flutter kicks: Holding on to the side of the pool, with your back floating, perform fast flutter kicks by keeping your legs straight and moving them up and down for one minute.

Water step-ups: Perform step-ups on the steps in a fast pace, 30 steps on each leg.

Finish off with a brisk two-minute water walk.

Perform the entire above circuit three to four times depending on your fitness level.

For swimmers:
Laps: Swim slow freestyle laps for five minutes, then fast laps for three minutes. Rest for five seconds.

Backstroke: Swim backstroke for three minutes. Rest for five seconds.

Tread water: Tread water in the deep end for one minute. Rest for 10 seconds.

Laps: Swim fast laps for three minutes. Rest for five minutes.

Ball swim: Holding a pool ball in front of you, swim laps for three minutes. Rest for five seconds.

Jump lunges: In the shallow end, perform alternating lunges, jumping each time you switch over to the other leg. Perform for one minute, and rest five seconds.

Perform the entire circuit three to four times.

For additional challenge and variety, mix in some of the exercises from the non-swimmer workout.

[Aarti Patel serves as the columnist for Fitness Lifestyle. She has a B.Sc. in Health Information Administration and is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal and Group Fitness Instructor, and Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach. She can be reached at (404)-376-5655; info@aartifitness.com. This column rotates monthly along with the Ask the Doctor column by Gulshan Harjee, M.D.]

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