Want a fun, full-body workout experience? Just jump in the pool.
What type of exercise uses nearly all of the muscles in your body, is easy on your joints and is suitable for all ages and skill levels? If you said swimming, you guessed it.
Swimming is a fantastic way to tone muscles, build strength and endurance and keep your heart and lungs healthy. It is such a great workout because you use your whole body against the resistance of the water. It keeps your heart rate up and burns tons of calories without putting stress on your joints.
Swimming can also be part of a good cross-training program since it helps avoid injury. Athletes can get a good lower-impact workout in the pool, allowing the body time to heal between higher-impact activities like sports, running or weightlifting.
The Tampa YMCA recognizes all the health benefits of getting in the water. Starting Dec. 1, all Y members will be able to track their miles in a little friendly competition. Members will receive rewards for each 100 miles logged (note: 36 laps = one mile). Lauren Brun, Aquatics Director at the Campo Family YMCA, said it’s “a great way to encourage a healthy lifestyle.”
The pools at the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCAs are safe places to begin swimming. They are open year-round, are heated during the winter months and are always staffed with lifeguards. Before you begin swimming, you will want to be sure you are well-prepared. Goggles and a comfortable swimsuit are necessary. Also, a swim cap will help to keep longer hair out of your face.
For those just starting out, Brun suggests starting with a kickboard or pool buoy. If you are not comfortable starting on your own, you do not have to be a Y member to sign up for private or group lessons. The Y offers swim lessons for all ages, including adults. YMCA members age 18 and up can join “masters” which, unlike it sounds, is a coach-led workout for all skill levels and abilities.
Brun says lap lane etiquette is important when swimming laps in any public pool.
“Always stay on the right side of the lane and circle swim in a counter-clockwise motion,” she said. “If you feel a tap on the foot by the swimmer behind you, this means they want to pass. Allow more advanced swimmers to pass.”
Brun also advises bringing water to stay hydrated.
YMCA members wanting to find out more about tracking their miles should contact the Welcome Center at their local YMCA.
Angela Fulgieri is a Program Director for the Tampa Metropolitan YMCA. Write her at observerfitness@ gmail.com.