Thursday, July 12, 2012

Step Aside Michael Phelps: There's a New Swimmer in Town!

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Swimming is my jam. Sadly, I don't get to do it very often these days because gym memberships in New York City will cost you an arm and a leg (literally), as well as your firstborn child. But I grew up swimming, mostly due to the fact that my mother was a swimmer and a diver her whole life. She was actually on the very first women's swim team at the University of Georgia. Shazam!

When my parents moved into our neighborhood a few months before I entered the world, they were denied membership to the neighborhood pool. Unbeknownst to them, our house was actually in a completely different neighborhood yet shared a property line with the neighborhood that held the coveted pool community - the land of milk and honey. That didn't stop my parents though! They dug a hole in the backyard and made their own exclusive pool community. Take that, Weatherstone!

I'd probably deny them pool membership too.
So needless to say, I grew up in the water. I was on multiple swim teams and even swam for fun post-college at 5 am (yes, I have a sick idea of fun). But nothing makes me feel as good as swimming! Nothing!

Here's why you should switch it up and give swimming a try...

Swimming targets your WHOLE body. There's hardly a muscle that's not used. In contrast to running where your upper body does not have to work quite as hard, swimming requires both your upper and lower body to work in unison or you... WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT... sink.

Swimming is a great core training exercise. Each of the different strokes require your abs to do a great deal of work. Swimmer's are known for their washboard abs. (Don't act like you're watching the Summer Olympics just for the competition, ladies!)

Swimming is a low impact exercise, meaning it's great for all ages, all body types and all ranges of physical health. Swimming is recommended for people with joint problems, osteoporosis and those recovering from injuries. (My mother is actually using swimming as a surgery recovery mechanism as we speak!)

Swimming can boost your metabolism. You build lean muscle when you swim, as a result of the resistance workout in the water. Water is 800 times denser than air, so your muscles have to work a little harder. As you build more muscle, you burn more calories! Ta da! It's that simple.

Swimming can be a lifetime activity. As you age, you won't have to give it up! Studies have shown that habitual swimmers tend to have better cardiovascular performance, better cognitive functions, better blood pressure levels AND they tend to reap the psychological benefits of being 'one with the water'.

When starting to swim, don't get discouraged. It takes your lungs time to get used to the whole 'breathing underwater' thing, and even if you're in great physical shape on land, you may find yourself sucking air in the pool. Just go with it. We've all been there. 

Studies have shown that shorter bursts of varying intensity and different strokes tend to be more effective overall. So give yourself breaks and switch it up. You'll notice that you can go longer and farther each time you go.

Guys, no need to shave your whole body (don't be dramatic). Girls, those one-pieces do wonders for your body (say goodbye to Spanx) ...and the feeling you get when you're done is incomparable! Go ahead, prove me wrong!

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