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  • Writer's pictureJess D

Swim Fit! Why Swimming is a Great Addition to Your Fitness Routine

Updated: Apr 2

Swimming has a lot of awesome benefits! See how you can incorporate it into your fitness routine.

I know I spend a lot of time talking about jiu-jitsu and how you can start training jiu-jitsu better. But as a person who loves all types of fitness, I have to shout out my all-time favorite way of working out, especially during the summer months: Swimming.

My History with Swimming

From the time I was three years old to now, swimming has been a major part of my life. Since my mom didn’t know how to swim, she saw the importance of swimming for its life saving factors and for extracurricular activities when my sister and I were growing up. She also realized the stereotypes of black people and swimming and refused to let that stereotype be put on my sister and myself.

As we got older, I was put into competitive swimming and did it all the way from the time I was seven until right in the beginning of my freshman year of college. During the time between then and even now, I teach swim lessons to children and adults alike. I have had the opportunity to teach people basic water safety to how to be faster for competitive swimming.

Benefits of Swimming

Of course, you don’t have to be preparing for a marathon or the Olympics to get into swimming. There are many benefits that swimming has on the body and the mind.

Here they are listed:

· Full Body Workout for Both Strength and Cardio

· Low Impact

· Improved Flexibility

· Meditative and Stress Relieving

· Life Saving Activity

1. Full Body Workout for Both Strength and Cardio

Unlike running or doing some other traditional cardio exercises, swimming provides a full body workout that helps with cardio and strength. For cardio, you’re obviously breathing and using your lungs while you propel through the water. Because you are moving every part of your body against resistance, there is a strength aspect to swimming. You can also increase that strength aspect by doing swim drills in the water. These swim drills can include only using your arms and not kicking, swimming with one arm, or just kicking your feet.

2. Swimming is a Low Impact Sport

Running is always a “go-to” for people when they want to lose weight and be fit. Personally, I’ve never liked running and you probably wouldn’t see me running unless something was chasing me. I’ve never understood the idea of a “runner’s high” but I digress. If you run often, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your knees. If you run on a treadmill often, multiply that by 1000.

As you get older, you probably won’t be able to run, especially if you’re not keeping up with recovery and/or mobility exercises. While doing anything in the water, you release all that pressure and tension on your joints. The water isn’t pounding against your joints, and you can move through it with ease. This means that you’ll be able to swim for a long time as you get older.

3. Improves Flexibility

I have talked about how being flexible can help prevent injury and help with recovery. In addition to a regular stretching regimen, swimming can help improve your flexibility. When swimming with the proper technique and elongating your body and limbs with each stroke, you are increasing your range of motion. Increasing that range of motion therefore improves joint flexibility which means less stress.

4. Meditative and Stress Relieving

If you’re like me, you find being in or around water very relaxing. I even sometimes use ocean sounds to go to sleep. That same relaxing feeling comes over me when I swim. When you’re in the pool and swimming laps, you can’t hear anything except the repetitive and rhythmic sounds of your strokes and kicks. This rhythm is so nice to focus on and you almost meditate as you get through each lap.

Also, the feeling of the water rushing over you and the fact that you are sweating but are not consciously feeling it really adds to the stress-relieving aspect of swimming.

5. Lifesaving activity

I think that knowing how to swim is one of those things that seems a lot to get into but it’s one of the most important lifesaving skills that everyone should have. According to the CDC, there is an average of 11 drowning deaths per day which is about 3,960 accidental drownings per year. Some drownings cannot be prevented unfortunately but taking the time to learn how to swim can help remove yourself from that statistic and save your life in the long run.

What to do if You Want to Swim but Don’t Know How

Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself to swim or use the water to exercise:

Take Swimming Lessons

If you’re thinking of switching up your current fitness routine by adding swimming but you don’t know how to swim, no problem. Swimming lessons are available everywhere and all year round. Many gyms that have pools or sole aquatic facilities have lessons geared towards adults to help get you to the point where you can do a few laps here and there.

You may be thinking that swimming might be hard, or you won’t be able to get the technique down right away. But, in my experience, it all depends on you. If you go in with the right mentality and without fear, you’ll pick it up fast.

Other Water Activities

If you want to get moving in the water without knowing how to swim, there are plenty of activities for you. There are group exercise classes such as water aerobics or Aqua Zumba to get you moving in the water and having fun. If you’re more motivated by doing exercises by yourself, you can water run or walk. This activity can be done with water weights so you can add another resistance aspect to your training. You can also incorporate the side of the pool into your exercise by holding onto the side and kicking your legs. Being in the pool offers a versatile exercise experience.

Have Fun with Swimming

There are many ways that you can exercise that are not only great for your fitness goals but also great for switching up your workout routine and adding a recovery exercise that still gives you that push you need, swimming does that and more. Swimming is something that you can incorporate for the rest of your life.

If you can swim, what is your favorite water activity? If you can’t swim, are you willing to learn? Why or why not? Let’s chat on Instagram @blackgirlwhitegi_bjj

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