If you can free up just a half an hour, your swimming pool can provide a refreshing alternative to exercise on the home gym or driving to the health club. As you will see, swimming pool workouts can be tailored to meet your individual needs as your athleticism (or lack thereof) allows.
The following pool workout is designed for a person in general good health who knows how to swim. Never undertake an exercise program without consulting a physician first, and it goes without saying that persons who don’t know how to swim should never enter a pool unsupervised.
Water provides natural resistance to movement and buoyancy, meaning whether you keep to the shallow end of the swimming pool or explore the deep, you’ll be burning energy as you move. Your weight will almost be completely supported by the water itself—perfect for those with joint pain or previous injuries, and ideal for those looking for a calorie burning exercise.
Warm up: (5 minutes, minimum)
Whether you are a beginner or fitness veteran, properly stretching your muscle groups is vital to a safe swimming pool workout. You can execute almost all land-based stretching exercises in your swimming pool. Take care to stretch the large muscle groups of the legs, arms, back and chest, and don’t forget to simply walk around in the water to slowly elevate your heart rate.
Strength and Endurance: (10-20 minutes)
Begin by walking in a straight line from one side of the pool to the other, submerging yourself as deeply as possible into the water. Push your arms forward, fan them out and pull them behind you as you work your way across the swimming pool.
Gradually increase your pace and slowly lengthen both your stride and your reach, using your arms to help pull yourself through the water. As you move faster, resistance will increase and your balance will be challenged. Work up to your fastest, in-control pace and execute two fast walks back and forth across the pool.
Now choose a swimming stroke (breaststroke, backstroke, crawl, etc.) and swim one complete lap (across the pool and back) at a pace that allows you to complete one trip.
Repeat one lap of fast walking, followed by a controlled swimming lap using a different stroke. Work your way through all of the swimming strokes you know, only one lap each, followed by a fast walk lap. In no time, you will have worked every major muscle group in your body while elevating your heart rate over a fixed period of time.
Cool down. (5 minutes, minimum)
At the end of your multiple passes across the pool, repeat the stretching exercises you executed during warm up to allow the muscles time to relax, and to minimize soreness.
There’s flexibility here, of course. You may, as your fitness level allows, choose to execute one stroke per day for a number of laps (using different strokes on different workout days), or increase the number of laps you swim using all the strokes you know. In truth, you need not swim at all—bobbing, jumping, dipping, lunging, all work against the natural resistance of the pool water to exercise your muscles.
Since even 30 minutes of moderate pool exercise can burn up to 300 calories, it’s easy to see how a quick half hour workout, just three times a week, can have long-lasting health benefits. The point is, have fun with your workout routine, be creative in your effort, and make it easy to repeat the exercise again and again.