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Just Keep Swimming!

The school year has begun and along with it the countdown to the end of summer.  Labor Day may signal pool closings, but don’t hang up your cap and goggles just yet.  Swimming is a perfect activity that can be packed up and taken indoors.   

Bear Swimming Excercize

There are not many activities that can be done daily without risking injury, swimming and water exercise are perfectly safe for daily use.  Aquatic exercise is the most injury-free activity.  The buoyancy of the water neutralizes gravity, so you end up weightless.  Swimming is very gentle on your joints, because the water holds you up, so any pain that may be present during activity on land is diminished.  Less stress on your joints also means you can exercise longer.  This is great! Before you spend hours upon hours in the pool, however, remember that just 20 min at least 3 times a week can make a difference in your overall health and wellbeing.

If you are just starting out, it is best to divide your workout into shorter segments, that way you can rest in between.  Not to worry though, your heart rate will not automatically drop as it does while resting after walking, with swimming it stays up a while longer.  Backstroke and  sidestroke are easiest, especially since you don’t need to breathe underwater, and are great for beginning swimmers.  As you become more comfortable, you can try breaststroke or doggy paddle, and later advance to freestyle and butterfly.  If swimming is not your forte, you can try water aerobics, water yoga, water Pilates or Ai Chi.

Make sure to check with your doctor before you start any exercise regimen.  Individuals with hypertension, congestive heart failure and breathing disorders should not work out in water that is higher than their waist because that increases pressure on the cardiovascular system, elevates blood pressure and can make breathing harder.     

Working out at the pool, weather you are swimming or doing aerobics, jogging in place or even walking from side to side, works more muscle than any activity.  As you move, water provides resistance that will help you tone your arms, back, chest, stomach and legs.  Adding webbed gloves will provide you with added resistance as you move your hands through the water.  With each workout you will build strength, endurance and coordination.

It is easier to get your blood pumping, thus increasing your heart rate, in the pool rather than on land because of the water’s resistance, all with minimal joint stress.  Further benefits of aquatic exercise include: increased stamina, decreased weight, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and lower risk of heart disease.

Pool activities are especially beneficial for the aging population. As we become older we may experience diminished eyesight and weakness, which increases the risk of falling.  Working out in waist deep water will hold you up while you are active and prevent you from falling.  As you build strength and coordination, you will slowly decrease your fall risk. Walking or jogging in the pool may be easier when wearing pool shoes because they provide more traction, eliminating any potential for slipping feet.

If you need assistance to get in or out of the pool there are pool lifts available for your convenience.  In accordance with the ADA laws, public facilities that have a swimming pool, wading pool or spa, such as hotels and motels, health clubs, recreation centers, schools, and colleges must have a pool lift available for use.  If there is no pool lift in sight at your facility of choice, don’t fret because most likely they are equipped with a ADA Approved Portable Pool Lift like the Patriot F-12PPL-HD-AT1 by Aqua Creek Products LLC which meets all the CE requirements, is fully ADA compliant and user friendly.

When heading out to the pool don’t forget your cap, goggles, towel and especially drinking water because, though it may not feel like it, you do sweat while in the pool.  It is very important to stay hydrated while exercising. For those who are prone to muscle cramps during or post exercise, the high potassium content of coconut water can help prevent them.

Happy swimming!

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