Starting a Heart Friendly Swimming Routine

As temperatures continue to rise this summer, your outdoor exercise routine may need to be refreshed. The danger of overheating makes it difficult to maintain a cardio exercise such as walking or jogging outdoors. The heat can also put too much pressure on your joints, which may cause injury if you’re not careful. So instead of hitting the pavement, why not make a splash? Lori Lowe, a physical therapist specializing in aquatics at ProMedica St. Luke’s Hospital, shares ideas on various ways to get fit in the water.

Walking or running in the water. “Something as simple as walking or running laps in the pool can be great exercise,” Lowe says. “And pumping your arms in reciprocal movements will also strengthen your upper extremities.” Not only will this elevate your heart rate, but it is very easy on sensitive joints.

Treading water. “Deep water treading is another great way to exercise in the water,” explains Lowe. In addition to working your whole body and heart, treading water in a circle with your friends allows you to be social while you exercise.

Swimming laps. If you’re feeling confident, Lowe suggests swimming laps as a challenging way to get a full body cardio workout. If you don’t know where to begin, ask if your community pool offers adult swim lessons for your level. If swim instructions are unavailable, make sure to research proper stroke technique. While freestyle is the most commons stroke and is fairly easy to maintain for extended periods of time, injury of the shoulder or back is still possible if performed incorrectly. Many lap pools have designated time specifically for adult lap swimming, but any continuous motion in the water is sure to get your heart rate up.

Use equipment. There are numerous types of equipment that can help you maximize your workout. “Foam dumbbells can add resistance to your movements and strengthen your arms,” Lowe says. Kickboards allow you to rest your arms and stay afloat while your legs do the work. Fins, pull buoys, and hand paddles can also help you focus on certain muscle groups and add variety to your swimming regimen. Many pool facilities offer this equipment for you to borrow, but you may want to consider investing in your own gear if swimming becomes a regular routine.

Group classes. Water Aerobics and Aqua Zumba are the most commonly offered classes, and both are available at ProMedica Wildwood Athletic Club. If you’re unsure about what to do in the water, taking a class with trained instructor is a great option for getting started. These classes keep you moving, offer a social element you don’t get by swimming alone, and can help educate you on the different equipment and aquatic activities.

While swimming is great for exercise, it is important to remember proper water safety. Lowe offers these quick tips:

  • Look for pools that have certified lifeguards on duty. Lifeguards can assist you should something go wrong. If there are no pools in your area with lifeguards available, make sure to never swim alone.
  • If you do not feel confident in your swimming abilities, stick to the shallow end or near the edge of the pool where you can grab onto the wall if necessary.
  • Be mindful of the pool temperature. “If the pool temperature is 95 degrees or higher, it can raise your blood pressure, which is dangerous for those with heart conditions.” Most pools do not get this warm, but this makes hot tubs an unsuitable option for those with heart conditions.

To learn more about aquatic opportunities in the Toledo area, please visit the new ProMedica Wildwood Athletic Club website.

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