Summer is time to get outside and ride a bike, play ball, go on a hike, but what do you do on those extremely hot days? If you enjoy the outdoors for your regular fitness activities as I do, those hot summer days can put a damper on your quest for fun and good health. Doing too much out in the hot sun is also very dangerous. Extreme heat can cause dehydration, bring on a heat stroke or even become fatal. Going for a swim is a great alternative.
Swimming has many benefits that contribute to your overall good health. The heart and lungs can benefit from a bout of swimming and it can be a good cardio workout. It can serve as a cross-training element to your regular workouts. If you are a runner in training, swimming is a good activity that gets your heart rate up and takes some of the impact stress off your body.You can also nurse a knee or ankle injury back to health as you enjoy water fun and activity without putting undo strain on the injury.
Regular swimming builds endurance, muscle strength and cardio-vascular fitness. Before a land workout, you can use the pool for a warm-up session. Swimming with increasing effort to gradually elevate your heart rate and stimulate your muscle activity is easily accomplished in the water. After a land workout, swimming a few laps can help you cool down, move blood through your muscles to help them recover, and help you relax.
Shower immediately after swimming. Otherwise the chlorine from the pool water will dry out your skin and cause it to crack, which will make you more susceptible to infection. After a day in the pool, a nice shower or warm bath will make you feel super clean and refreshed and prepare you for a comfortable night sleep.
Swimming is fun for the whole family! Not only is swimming good exercise, but getting together with the family for a day of wet fun in the sun can build good strong relationships and improve self esteem. How about a game of water polo or water volleyball?
Apply water-resistant sunscreen when having your fun in the sun. The water may feel cool against your skin, but you could still get a bad burn, even on overcast days. Sunburn is not good for anyone! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.(I heard that somewhere).
Swimming is not a good way to shed unwanted pounds due to the cooling effects of the water. While you do burn a lot of calories swimming, once you get out of the pool, much of that calorie burning stops. When you are in the pool you don't heat up as much, and your body doesn't have to work as hard to cool you down when the swimming session is over. Doing exercises like running or cycling may burn about the same amount of calories per hour as swimming, but once you stop exercising, the workout usually leads to continued burning of calories for up to18 hours after the workout. Swimming is great for general fitness, just not a great way to lose weight.
Swimming is a healthy activity that can be continued for a lifetime and the health benefits are worth the effort. Swimming for fitness is just plain smart fun and great for all ages. So go ahead, jump in the lake,(or the pool) and have a healthy swim day fun adventure!