This is a guest post from Becky Flanigan. I have a post coming out soon about 5 foods for great heart health, so this one seemed appropriate! Plus, I love swimming. Take it away, Becky!
For those who want to have their exercise routine help maintain a healthy heart, consider the pool. Swimming is a great way to get yourself in shape, which will translate into a heart that has to work less during everyday life. Here are some things to consider:
Excellent cardiovascular conditioning
Swimming improves the body’s use of oxygen, without overworking your heart, and provides an excellent resource for cardiovascular conditioning. There are many other benefits to time spent in the water, like weight loss, but where the health of your heart is concerned, swimming is superb. As you begin to work out in the pool and build your endurance, your resting heart rate, along with your respiratory rate, will be reduced. That means blood flow to the heart and lungs will be more efficient, and will also reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. Here are some excellent resources with more information:
Great for reducing stress
Just being in the water can add a calming and meditative element to a swimming session. When you are forced to regulate your breathing as you swim, it allows more oxygen flow to your muscles. After all, we’re made up of 60 percent water, so no wonder we are drawn to the water. Go for a short swim, and see how relaxed you feel when you get out of the water – that will tell you about how wonderfully water works on stress. Swimming clears the mind, and can encourage a positive attitude.
Lower blood pressure
When you go swimming and reduce stress, it translates to a lower blood pressure. Studies show that a workout routine which involves swimming can help reduce and possibly prevent high blood pressure. That means you are at lower risk for heart disease and stroke. Lower blood pressure is one of the most significant benefits of swimming.
Check with the doctor
Start by checking with your doctor, to make sure he clears you for exercise, and how much is a good level of activity when you begin. Guidelines for adults is to perform 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five or more days a week. That’s not the place to start – but the goal to reach for. If you set that goal, make sure the doctor says it is acceptable.
If you haven’t gone swimming or hit the lap lanes for a while, don’t overdo to begin. It is recommended that beginning swimmers start with 12 to 20 minutes of swimming, and let your time slowly increase from that point. Use a freestyle stroke, where the arms windmill and the legs kick, and you breathe on the side of the arm that’s out of the water. As you build your endurance, your water workouts will get longer and stronger. You’ll feel stress melt away, and your heart rate will be lowered.
Other exercise in the water
If you’re not into swimming laps, there are still options in that lap lane. Try walking or aqua jogging, to keep your heart rate up and give you a cardiovascular workout. Aqua aerobics classes can provide a great cardio workout, and have the advantage of being a group activity, if swimming alone isn’t for you. Just as long as you’re in the water, and giving your body an aerobic workout, that is considered a great day of exercise. The choice is yours as to the water workout you prefer.
Take up swimming, and as you feel the health benefits, you can smile, knowing you are doing a great thing to give yourself a healthy heart.
Becky Flanigan has lived near the beach since she was a kid. She gave up on surfing a while back, but enjoys walking the beach just as much as ever. Working freelance for anappleperday.com, Becky always enjoys the challenge of a new writing assignment.