Swimming – the ideal summer sport
The desire to jump into cool water increases dramatically in the warm season. Swimming is a welcome pick-me-up, but above all it is also an optimum whole body exercise for young and old and the perfect outdoor sport in summer.
Water is a phenomenon. We feel light-weight and floating as soon as we step into it. After all, we only have to carry one seventh of our weight. At the same time, however, we must overcome a resistance that is 14 times higher than in air, which makes every movement extremely effective. Water resistance also has a tightening effect on the skin and essentially acts like a whole body massage.
Swimming utilizes a multitude of different muscle groups that can all be exercised relatively evenly. Due to the buoyancy and the connected weight relief, this type of sport is also easy for overweight people and can even be done with joint diseases. This can help prevent postural deformities and tension and can also alleviate these problems.
But not only the musculoskeletal system benefits from swimming, the heart muscle is also strengthened and the complete cardiovascular system is stimulated. Swimming on a regular basis also improves lung function and respiratory rhythm and increases endurance in general. It strengthens the veins and supports the flow of blood back to the heart. Even a frequency of twice per week for approximately 500 to 1000 metres can lower the cholesterol level and reduce the risk of diabetes or arteriosclerosis. The relaxing effect of the water also promotes relaxation and helps cope with stress. In short: Swimming is one of the healthiest types of sports, it is a fountain of youth for body and soul – and it's fun!
Use the opportunities, specifically in the summer when outdoor pools and lakes entice one for a visit. Swimming is also one of the few types of sports that can be done when it's hot. A great combination for cooling off while simultaneously reducing weight and increasing muscle. Depending on your type of stroke, you can count on a calorie consumption of 500 to 900 kcal per hour. Regular swimmers also profit from a higher basic metabolic rate (calorie consumption while resting) due to additional muscle mass, which is a principle that reaches its maximum level after approximately 40 minutes of exercise. Longer and slower swimming is therefore recommended.
However, we generally caution against excessive exercise. It is better to handle short distances instead of swimming long lanes, and take a short break every few minutes, especially at the beginning. Regular training is much more important than speed and duration. Over time, speed and endurance increase all on their own. One should switch between different types of strokes, if possible, to exercise as many different muscle groups as possible. Backstroke, for example, provides extra exercise for abdominal muscles, and crawling strengthens specifically the arms. Arms and legs are exercised equally with the breaststroke, while it is especially important not to continuously stretch the head out the water, which strains the neck muscles. It's better to lower the head underneath the water's surface when moving the arms forward. You can use swimming goggles to help reduce a possible reticence of being submerged and to prevent red eyes.
By the way, the old rule from your childhood still applies: never swim after eating!