In the water
There are several ways to keep fit while enjoying your pool, both traditional and non-traditional.
Traditional swimming is an excellent way to improve your overall health. The activity can enhance your cardiovascular health, help you drop a few of those extra pounds and lead to better muscle tone and increased flexibility.
Depending on your intensity and speed, you can burn up to 500 calories per hour when swimming. Of course, different swimming strokes will reap different benefits. Some common strokes include:
- Freestyle/crawl: This might be the most familiar swimming stroke of them all. You lie on your stomach, moving your arms in an alternating windmill motion, into and out of the water as they rotate, while you kick your legs, in an alternating flutter motion underwater. Freestyle swimming can help tone your chest, upper arms, shoulders and thighs.
- Backstroke: This is, in essence, the same as the freestyle, except in this case, you lie on your back in the water. The same alternating arm and leg motions are used and the same muscles are exercised (in a slightly different manner).
- Breaststroke: This more complicated stroke starts with you lying on your stomach. You extend your arms in front of you, pulling back towards your body through the water in a sweeping motion to propel yourself forward (keep your hands cupped). Meanwhile, pull your knees towards your chest, then thrust your legs backward and snap them together for added propulsion. For reference, think of a frog’s legs as he swims through a pond. This stroke works the chest, arms and thighs, among other muscles.
Of course, not everyone likes the idea of swimming laps in the pool. Thankfully, there are other water-based activities that can help you keep fit.
Aquatic exercise programs incorporate a series of low-impact underwater moves designed to mimic traditional aerobics. Like swimming, aquatic exercise can increase muscle strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health. It can also lead to better balance, posture, and co-ordination. These exercises are a great pool-based alternative for family members who are either uncomfortable or weak swimmers, as they are often performed in constant-depth pools or the shallow end of a traditional pool.
If you are still hesitant to try an aquatic fitness routine, there are several floatation devices on the market that can give you some added safety and security in the water. After all, better safe than sorry!
Before hitting the backyard pool to start your own routine, consider checking out a class at a local pool or fitness facility conducted by a qualified instructor. This will give you a good idea of the types of exercises you can do and how they are properly executed. Of course, it’s always advisable to exercise with a partner. Not only can you help motivate each other, you can also keep an eye on each other in case of injury or emergency.