The 3 Week Diet

How to Start an Effective Swimming Routine

Not just a swimming pool...a fitness tool!

If you’re looking for a new exercise routine, swimming may be the ideal workout. It’s easy on the joints, fun, burns calories and is just as challenging as you care to make it. People of all ages and physical ability can benefit from a swimming routine, whether they have an above ground pool or a built in one. As people age, they need to concentrate on forms of exercise that have a gentler impact on the joints. When running gets to be too difficult on your knees and feet, swimming may be the answer to your workout dilemma.

Swimming for Weight Loss

Many people view swimming as a leisure time activity, and not a vigorous form of exercise. In fact, swimming burns about the same amount of calories as jogging, dancing, playing basketball or other aerobic activities. If you’re swimming, you’re not feeling hot and sweaty, so you may not feel as if you’re getting a good calorie burn. The average 200 lb. person can burn off over 300 calories in half an hour of swimming, proof that it raises the heart rate and revs up the metabolism. Swimming is a very good exercise for overweight individuals, as it puts no strain on knee joints. The buoyancy of the water allows formerly sedentary people to move easier and get a workout in with less strain and effort.

Starting a Swimming Routine

As with all exercise programs, check with your physician before beginning a swimming routine. He may have limits on the amount of exercise to do or the type of movements that are wise for your body. Once you get the all-clear from your doctor, begin your swimming routine at least three days a week, and build up to five days. Start moving slowly and increase your efforts on a weekly basis. The speed at which you move and the distance you travel isn’t as important as the amount of time you spend working out. If you have a basic backyard above ground pool, swimming laps around the perimeter will work just as well as swimming in an Olympic-sized pool at the university. It’s the sustained effort that counts when it comes to exercise.

Heart Rate

Keep track of your heart rate to find your perfect pace for safe weight loss. Doctors talk about reaching your target heart rate which, in general, is 220 minus your age. Reach this heart rate to achieve maximum benefits from your workout, but try not to go over that rate by much. Going over your target heart rate won’t increase your calorie burn significantly, but may put an unnecessary strain on your heart.

Swimming Equipment

Unlike some other forms of exercise, swimming routines need only a minimum amount of equipment. Purchase the basics when you begin, and add accessories as you progress.

  • Swimsuit: Go for comfort instead of looks. Try on the suit, bending and stretching to make sure the fabric doesn’t bind or ride up when you move.
  • Goggles: Get a good-fitting set of goggles for daily swimming. They will keep water and pool chemicals out of your eyes.
  • Kickboard: This short board looks like half a surfboard, and is a useful addition for when you want to work on just your leg muscles. Non-swimmers can use a kickboard to get a good workout until they learn to swim.
  • Waterproof watch: Use this to time your swims, beginning with shorter intervals and moving on to longer duration sets.
  • Heart rate monitor: Use a waterproof one that attaches to an arm to keep constant track of your heart rate.

Start slowly, with sets of 30 seconds or a minute, and build from there every week. The point is not to turn yourself into an Olympic swimmer overnight, but to have fun while working out in a safe and effective manner.

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