The one caveat however is that you can’t be afraid of the water. Like myself. I grew up with a best friend who had a huge pool in her backyard and still to this day I’m a mess in the water. (The doggie paddle is my swim of choice—since it’s the only one I know how to do, and so not gracefully—and after about two minutes of that I’m ready to get washed up on shore like a beached mammal.) In my apartment complex we have a pool that just opened up for the season and I’m trying to convince myself that it’s high time I take on that big bucket of water and try my hand at perfecting a new stroke, any stroke for that matter… the worst thing that could happen is the all-too-cute lifeguard plunges in to rescue me as I hideously gag for life’s breath while in the shallow end. In the name of fitness I’m willing to put my ego on the line and give it a shot because the benefits just simply outweigh the cons (like sucking for air as life passes me by.)
Here are some pros and cons of swimming if you too are a scaredy cat like me and need some help being convinced to, literally, take the plunge.
• Increases your endurance, builds up your muscle strength and improves your body’s use of oxygen which allows for improved lung functioning.
• Treading water is considered a good workout since your whole body is in on the move. (Try doing that for five minutes straight and you’ll see how much endurance you really do lack.)
• Very low risk of injuring yourself. Especially if you’re safe and always aware of where the concrete sides are. (Stubbing one’s toe is always a risk factor but that usually occurs outside the pool.)
• Running and walking in the pool also provide for a great workout. Plus you get to feel like you’re in the middle of a dream. (Did that resonate with anyone or am I the only one who sometimes has the feeling that I’m walking through molasses in my dream?)
• Your body is less likely to overheat since it’s constantly being cooled by the water, thus your heart isn’t overworked. (Unless you’re doing your ‘laps’ in a hot tub.)
• Here’s one I never thought of: swimming can actually help to remove dirt and bacteria from your skin pores, thus preventing future outbreaks from occurring. (Every teenager just jumped into the pool.)
• Strong swimming can result in burning about 8 calories per minute resulting in significant weight loss. (This is for serious swimmers though. Those swimming while holding onto a noodle probably won’t see the same weight loss results. But kudos to you for being out there!)
• Make a wrong move and you’ll get an influx of water right up your nose.
• Make a wrong move and you’ll get an influx of water right in your ear. (Leaving your equilibrium messed up for days while you constantly bounce on one leg, head tilted to the side in hopes of relieving the pressure and from having to hear the awful sound of your own voice reverberating in your head.)
• As noted earlier, all-too-cute lifeguard rescuing you as your ego gets massively pummeled.
• Scraping forehead on concrete wall. (This happens if you can’t open your eyes under water and refuse to wear goggles—b/c there is an all-too-cute lifeguard on duty. Bloody forehead over goofy goggles wins.)
As you can see, the cons clearly outweigh the pros so grab yourself a koozie, strap on some floaties and take it to the pool.
Alright, scratch that. The pros clearly win and swimming is a great form of exercise that works all your muscles helping to make you stronger while increasing your endurance. If you got a pool nearby, then take advantage of it and jump in for a great workout. I’m gonna try and do the same and hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll finally have another stroke to add to my extensive repertoire!Anne Marie Costanzo is a nationally certified personal trainer and you can reach her at email@example.com or (914) 841-1121.