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Published on February 27, 2018

water aerobics class

#TryItTuesday: Swimming Isn’t Just for Kids           

When we were kids, we didn’t think of swimming, running, or riding a bike as exercise. It was just fun! Somehow as we got older, exercise became something we had to do – more of a chore or an item to check off on our to-do list. 

My goal of “Getting Fit at 50” requires me to have a new mindset. For me to succeed, I need to find activities that are enjoyable. As we all know, time is precious, and if I’m going to spend time doing something (even exercise) I want it to be fun! 

That is why we are talking about swimming today. As a child, I loved to swim.

As an adult, my fear of being in public in a swimming suit stole the joy of being in the water. However, this summer, I pushed through that fear when my 9-year-old grandson asked me to swim with him. At that moment, I decided that creating memories with my grandson was more important than my embarrassment of a few extra pounds.

When we were done swimming that day, I found myself wondering "Why did I wait so long to do something I so enjoyed?"

Did you know?

Swimming is a low-impact activity that has many physical and mental health benefits.

Exercising in water can be every bit as intense as exercising on land, and studies show it offers similar benefits. It’s a great workout because you need to move your whole body against the resistance of the water. And, it keeps your heart rate up but takes some of the impact stress off your body. Swimming also:

  • Builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs.
  • Tones muscles and builds strength.
  • Helps you stay flexible.
  • Provides an all-over body workout, as nearly all of your muscles are used during swimming.

As part of my Fit at 50 plan, I’ve scheduled two swim days per week in my fitness routine. Currently, I'm following an individual swim plan, but as I gain confidence in "getting fit," I'll be trying out the swim classes offered at my gym.

Here are a few of my reasons for swimming:

  • It’s quiet — no phone, no electronics, just me and the water.
  • My knees don’t hurt when I’m swimming.
  • It feels more like play than work.
  • I don’t get hot and sticky.
  • I’m using muscles I don’t normally use.
  • And a bonus – there's something almost magical in the winter when you are inside swimming and watching it snow outside.

Since I haven’t swam in years, I’m easing into a swimming workout by alternating my moves each lap. Here is what my current water routine is:

  • Lap 1: walking
  • Lap 2: sidestroke alternating sides at the halfway point
  • Lap 3: walking front lunges in the water
  • Lap 4: breaststroke
  • Lap 5: backstroke
  • Laps 6-10: repeat laps 1 to 5

A few things to remember before you dive in:

  • Make sure you know the basics of how to swim. (If you don't already know how to swim, there are classes at community pools, gyms and YMCAs or YWCAs. It's good to know how to swim, for safety's sake, even if you aren't planning to make swimming your main workout.)
  • Choose a safe environment.
  • Warm up and stretch your muscles and joints before entering the water.
  • Have plenty of fluids on hand and drink regularly.
  • Don’t overdo it if you’re just starting out.
  • See your doctor if you haven’t exercised for a long time.

If you are new to swimming, remember to give yourself time to work up to the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity. A few weeks back when I started swimming, it took me longer to drive to the pool than I actually spent time swimming.

I’m now up to 15 minutes of swim time and it feels great!

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