Summer is well underway and water activities are in full-swing. Whether it’s at a nearby lake, beach, or swimming pool, it’s time to talk about water exercises and why they’re good for you.
Here are nine benefits of exercising (particularly swimming) in water:
- There’s low impact on your joints: Water gives you buoyancy—i.e., you float! This decreases the impact on your joints, so when you swim or exercise in the water, you have a lower risk of injury.
- It does a better job at keeping you cool: Working out can cause you to overheat, especially in the summer. Exercising in the water helps the body cool off faster and reduces the risk of overheating. If the water is warm, it may not help keep you cool, but it does help increase blood circulation, which is a plus when exercising.
- Water has built-in resistance: Because you’re moving your body through water instead of through air, you’re working harder. This resistance is great for building all-around strength and endurance.
- You can adjust the resistance: Depending on your speed, position, or form in the water, the resistance you face is dynamic. For example, the more streamlined your swim stroke, the faster you’ll travel with less resistance. If you’re jogging or running in water, particularly if it goes higher than your waist, you’re getting much more resistance (this is often done if you’re training to improve your running speed, strength, and endurance when you’re on land).
- It gets easier over time: The more knowledge and skill you have with respect to swimming, the more efficient your body becomes when moving through the water. This translates to less energy and effort exerted, and greater speed. The good news is that the more you learn, practice, and condition your body, the easier swimming will be.
- You can incorporate rest: You don’t have to stop exercising in the water to give your body a rest during a workout. If you’re swimming, you can add resting strokes like sidestroke or elementary backstroke for a minute or two (or a lap or two in the pool) until you recover.
- You can increase intensity slowly: The benefit of swimming is that you can make gradual changes to your routine without much effort. Simply increase the time spent swimming continuously and take shorter rest breaks—or replace your breaks with rest strokes (see tip #6) as you build up your swimming regime.
- It’s great for keeping joints limber and toning muscles: Since exercising in the water is so low impact, your joints stay nimble. With the built-in resistance of the water, swimming is great for keeping your muscles toned.
- It offers support for the whole body: Not only is exercising in the water low-impact, it’s also excellent for support. Bonus: it supports your back! You don’t have to worry about the weight of your body on your spine or your posture when you move your body through water. If you’re not a swimmer, you can still use the water for gentle exercise: do some walking workouts waist-deep in a swimming pool to take the pressure off your joints and back while still getting movement.
So, take the pressure off, hit up your local beach or pool, and go for a swim! Before you take a dip, check out our safety tips on swimming both in pools and open water.
Talk to your Dr. Tyler Hunsberger or Dr. Jerry Wright to find out what types of exercises are right for you.