If you’re a swimmer, you probably love the feeling of gliding through water and moving your arms and legs in fluid motion. The water provides a gentle resistance that strengthens and tones your muscles, without stressing joints the way that land-based exercises can. And it’s a great option for people with disabilities like spina bifida and muscular dystrophy that make regular aerobic activity difficult, or even impossible.
If your mobility issues prevent you from participating in other types of exercise, swimming can be a safe and effective way to get some cardiovascular activity and build strength and endurance. It also alleviates pain and pressure on your joints, while helping you to stretch and move parts of the body that don’t experience a full range of motion with other types of exercise.
Whether you’re an experienced swimmer looking to up your game or someone just starting out, you’ll soon find that the water offers endless opportunities to exercise in fun, challenging ways. But before you dive in, check with your doctor to make sure that swimming is a safe choice for you.
In addition to its physical benefits, swimming is a great mental workout. It’s a great way to relieve anxiety, and studies have shown that it can help improve sleep quality, particularly for pregnant women. Plus, it helps build resilience against depression and reduces the risk of dementia as you age.
Many adults have never learned to swim, but it’s not too late! You can take lessons at most pools and learn basic strokes as well as water safety. And if you’re worried about the danger of falling or drowning, consider wearing a life jacket.
Once you’re comfortable in the water, try combining the back and breaststroke. Float on your back with your face in the water and use the flutter kick technique to move through the water. Then, when you’re ready, slowly move your head into the water and do a breaststroke. Alternate between the two to keep moving and building up your strength.
The more you practice, the better you’ll become. But it’s important to remember that learning to swim is a step-by-step process. Attempting to swim freestyle before you’ve mastered front crawl, for example, is not going to work.
Competitive swimming is a great way to push yourself and see improvements over time. It’s also an opportunity to meet other swimmers with similar goals and interests, and develop friendships. You can also boost your swim fitness at home with a few simple strength training moves, including assisted and unassisted pull-ups and squats or deadlifts of your body weight, up to double-digit reps. It’s recommended that you speak with your doctor before you start any exercise program, especially if you have an existing health condition like heart disease or diabetes. But for most healthy adults, swimming is an excellent low-impact activity that’s worth adding to your routine!