Cardio and any other form of exercise that elevates the heart rate have been proven to have a lot of health benefits. For those who work out to lose weight, running on a regular basis is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to start shedding pounds. But if you want to up the ante on your workout, you should try and incorporate a swimming routine.
Not only will you be getting the cardio benefits, you're also toning your muscles, increasing your endurance, and adding variety to your routine to break or prevent monotony. Here are some more reasons why you should incorporate a swimming routine into your current workout.
Improves Technique and Coordination
Unlike running or cycling where your feet and legs are always moving forward, swimming gives you the freedom to move in more varied ways. Using different kinds of strokes for your laps, combined with treading, you get to exercise using different movements AND engage more muscle groups in every movement.
A simple way to look at swimming in terms of improving technique and coordination is this: anyone and everyone can simply go out and run, but not everyone can swim. This is not meant to discourage, but rather to challenge.
Engages and Tones Different Muscle Groups
If your regular workout consists of running or weight lifting, you are engaging specific muscle groups and areas of the body. The whole body benefits from running, but the focus is on the lower body. Same goes with weight lifting - its focus is on building upper body strength. So if you're already running and lifting weights on a regular basis, adding swimming to your routine will help "balance" things out and get an overall body workout by engaging the muscles from your neck down to your calves.
Many think that swimming focuses more on the upper body; hence, the "swimmer's body" effect. But if you combine your strokes with leg kicks, back crawls, and other leg actions, you are effectively working out not just the arms and legs, but also your core.
Increases Lung Capacity
When you do any cardiovascular and aerobic workout regularly, you learn to breathe deeper and improve your breathing because your body demands for more oxygen in the lungs. Swimming does the same, but in an increased capacity because of the added resistance that water provides. Try getting out of the water briefly and do the breast or back stroke. Now compare it to how much deeper your breaths get when you do the same in the water.
With this extra resistance, your body is pushed to do more - breathe deeper, kick harder, move your arms faster, etc. All this takes your regular and routine workout to a higher level, with your body developing those long, lean muscles on your arms, legs, back, core, etc.
Prevents Muscle Soreness and Improves Flexibility
When your workout consists mostly or purely of circuit training, running, or weight lifting, you will experience soreness in the muscles. Some who aren't so lucky, or do their exercises improperly, even experience muscle injury. Swimming can help prevent this, especially if you add it to your regular workout as the last routine. It can give your muscles that needed break and "healing time" from the high-impact, high-intensity exercises you did while still keeping the muscles warm.
So how does swimming lead to an improvement in flexibility? See, your muscles expand when they are warmed up (and you keep stretching or moving). This makes it easier and less painful for you to bend low, reach high, extend your arms further, etc. Swimming can be an excellent warm-down routine, a good break from routine fitness exercises, and a fun way to end every workout.
About the author: Ken Campbell has written for the health industry for many years. When he’s not reviewing hockey slide board training equipment, you can find him training for his upcoming triathlon.