Why swimming is good for you

Why?:

1. Heart Helper
Swimming provides unparalleled cardiovascular conditioning, provided you practice consistently and with good technique. While other forms of exercise may be more effective at elite levels (such as running or cycling), incorporating swimming into a cross-training routine and pushing yourself in practice will result in overall improved fitness.

2. Balance Your Build
Swimming builds longer, leaner muscles that complement the shorter denser muscles that develop from weight training. These “swimmer’s muscles” also help boost metabolism to keep calories burning longer.

3. Cross-training
Swimming not only boosts cardiovascular capacity while increasing muscle strength, but it also gives your body a break from higher-impact activities like basketball, running, and weightlifting. By creating a balanced workout routine, athletes avoid injury by allowing their body time to heal, while not forgoing daily training sessions.

4. Increased Flexibility
A heated pool relaxes muscles, increasing flexibility and enabling important stretching. Also, after intense lactic-acid-building endurance workouts (running, cycling, weights), an easy swim helps flush out toxins preventing muscle tightness and soreness the following day.

5. Strengthen Your Core
Swimming develops core body strength because it utilizes all the body’s muscles simultaneously. Although 70 percentĀ of a swimmer’s effort comes from the upper body, kickboard and fin workouts can provide an excellent leg workout.

6. Endurance
Swimmers are able to swim longer than they can what they could sustain doing other activities. With the right technique, a swimmer will be able to train for longer periods of time than if he/she were running and, as a result, more calories are burned.

7. Adventure
Swimming has branched out from the darkened, indoor community pools of yesteryear. Many new health club chains offer clean lap pools, and local communities are finding renewed interest in outdoor facilities during the summer months. Seek out available natatoriums in your area (swimmersguide.com) and if you are able, locate a natural body of water (lake, ocean, pond, or quarry) and explore the joys of open-water swimming.

8. Social Outlet
Imagine meeting the man/woman of your dreams, and seeing what they look like without their clothes on for your first date! That’s one benefit, at least, of joining a Masters team or triathlon training group. In addition to the possibility of romance fueled by mutual interests, team programs offer peer motivation and professional coaching to provide you with increased performance results.

9. Weight Loss
“People who consistently swim strenuously enough to be out of breath when they finish and elevate their heart rate do burn calories and lose weight,” says Jane Moore, M.D., a physician and active swimmer from Tacoma, Washington. “The key is to push yourself a bit.”

“Putting on a swimsuit and appearing in public should also motivate one to shed a few pounds,” says Kris Houchens, head coach of the YMCA Indianapolis SwimFit Masters.

Whatever your reason, or whatever the excuse of a friend or partner, that swimming has not been incorporated into a consistent fitness routine, the list above should illuminate the ways in which the sport can add to your quality of life.

Consider making a positive change and research the swimming opportunities in your community today!

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Why is rollerblading good?

Credit: Michelle Matte

Skate

INTRODUCTION:

Whether on a crowded Eastern seaboard boardwalk, a sunny California ocean promenade or a meandering walkway in Des Moines, Iowa, if there are long stretches of smooth pavement, you will find in-line skaters wending their way gracefully, their fast-moving rhythmic motion leaving joggers and cyclists in the dust. The smooth gliding movement may appear effortless, yet rollerblading is one of the most challenging cardiovascular activities around.

WHY?:

Cardiovascular exercise and muscle action:

Cardiovascular exercise is marked by rhythmic aerobic muscle action that demands oxygen to regenerate adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, the source of muscular contraction. The ongoing demand for oxygen increases the speed and depth of respiration and makes the your pump faster and harder to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your working muscles. The greater the size and number of muscles involved in an exercise, the greater the demand on your cardiovascular system.

Energy demand:

Because rollerblading recruits so many large muscles in an ongoing rhythmic fashion, the oxygen and energy demands are high. According to Harvard Medical School, rollerblading burns between 400 to 700 calories per hour, depending on body weight. The smooth gliding motion of rollerblading reduces impact, placing less stress on joints than many other types of cardio.

Tips:

Like any other sport, there is a learning curve to mastering in-line skating skills like starting, stopping, locomotion technique and balance. Getting a lesson or two before lacing up will help you master skills more quickly and may save you embarrassment and potential injury from falling.

High-quality skates with good fit and safety equipment including a helmet, elbow and knee pads, and wrist supports are all recommended.

To maximize the benefits of in-line skating, establish and maintain repetitive motion. Short sequences of skating interrupted by long periods of coasting will not have the same training effect as perpetual motion.