Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Swim for a great workout

Published:Wednesday | April 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Dear Dr Gardner,

Enjoyed your article on the treadmill. However, I would like you to do a little research on swimming and aquatic exercise. I have been swimming in my pool at home and have found it to be a wonderful way to exercise. Water is one of the heaviest substances so the resistance for particular exercises is great and because of the buoyancy and weightlessness, I am able to do certain moves that I could hardly attempt anywhere else.

- Winston B

Dear Winston,

Aquatic exercises improve wellness and skills for competitive pursuits. However, the fear of water prevents many of us from enjoying these exercises. Swimming can be the ideal aerobic workout if we develop our skill level. This activity utilises almost all our major muscle groups. People with locomotor challenges or physical injuries may not be able to walk, jog or run for long periods but they can enjoy the benefits of similar activities in water.

The buoyancy of water takes the pressure off the joints, bones and lower extremities. People who are overweight can also enjoy aquatic activities without worrying about biomechanical injuries. Exercises performed in warm water provide therapeutic benefits for people with arthritis and lumbago.

Essential survival skill

Unfortunately many of us are fixated on the dangers of aquatic activities. Instead, swimming should be recognised as an essential survival skill and a springboard for successful athletic performance and wellness. Swimming should be taught by introducing concepts of personal safety, swimming skills, aquatic fitness and emergency and rescue.

Even young children can be trained to perform basic non- swimming rescue and to provide simple aquatic emergency care. The aquatic experience should be introduced with the use of flotation devices such as float belts and kickboards to help us develop confidence in the water. When we developed strength, endurance and self-confidence, we will learn new skills easier and faster.

Participation in competitive aquatic sports helps swimmers' endurance, strength, water skills and camaraderie.

Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center; email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com.

Unfortunately many of us are fixated on the dangers of aquatic activities. Instead, swimming should be recognised as an essential survival skill and a springboard for successful athletic performance and wellness.