Swimming is another excellent cardiovascular exercise and is a great alternative for those with chronic orthopedic limitations or recent injuries. Benefits include increased cardio-respiratory health, decreased body fat, a decreased risk of heart disease, a very low risk of injury, and improved muscle endurance.
Swimming generally requires a higher level of skill, and thus may take longer to learn than other cardiovascular exercises. If your skill level is low, supervision and swimming lessons should precede swimming as a cardiovascular exercise.
- Always warm-up , stretch, and cool-down during your swimming session. Begin each session by swimming at a low intensity or walking the width of the pool in waist-or-chest-high water for 5-10 minutes (warm-up) and then stretch your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, shoulders, and low back muscles (refer to the Flexibility Training component for the principles and techniques of stretching.) After your session, cool-down by swimming at a low intensity or walking the width of the pool in waist-or-chest high water for 5-10 minutes and then stretch the same muscles as before.
- Be sure to breathe regularly throughout the exercise session.
- It is important to gradually increase the duration (the time you spend in each session) before you increase the intensity. That is, when beginning a swimming program, be more concerned with increasing the number of minutes of the exercise session before you increase the intensity, by increasing your speed. Interval training (explained in the Cardiovascular Exercise content) is an effective method of gradually increasing your intensity.