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Swimming: The benefits and getting started

We are sure that you have already heard that swimming is one of the best physical activities for your health. Swimming not only burns a lot of calories, but it is very easy on your joints (thus, a great exercise if you have any joint pain), and it greatly improves your cardiovascular fitness. Anyone and everyone, from young to old can participate in this exercise.

Accessibility: While not everyone will have a pool in their backyard, there are many indoor pools accessible to the public, in almost every community. In addition, the summer is a great time to go to the beach by the lake or the ocean and swim in nature’s pools. The great thing about swimming is that it can be both a social or individual activity.

Getting started: If you are unfamiliar with some of the swimming strokes, you can find a brief description of some of the main strokes below:

  • Front Crawl: This is the most popular, and easiest stroke to learn for beginners. The most difficult part of this stroke is knowing when to breathe. As you flutter kick (legs kick in an alternate order) keep your knees bent slightly and your feet and ankles should be relaxed. Your arms will be moving in a windmill motion and as you raise one arm to begin your stroke, your head should follow your shoulder to take a breath. Try not to take your head completely out of the water, instead only tilt it enough so that you can take your breath, as you rotate your arm back into the water, your face will follow and you should exhale once your face in already in the water. As your other arm rises, take another breath.
  • Backstroke: This stroke is similar to the front crawl except you are now on your back. Keeping your head back and eyes toward the ceiling, repeat the same windmill motion with your arms, along with the flutter kick of the front crawl. Breathing will be much easier and your face will already be out of the water. Ensure you keep your arms strong, and roll your body from side to side to help your arms catch more water to move you forward.
  • Breaststroke: This may be one of the hardest strokes to master, however, once you are comfortable with all others you should most definitely give this one a try. Start with your arms straight overhead. As you pull and bring your arms toward your chest, lift your head out of the water and take a breath. Continue with bringing your knees to your chest and kick your legs back straight and into a frog-like kick. Glide, and repeat.

Now all you need is a swimsuit, swimming googles, a bathing cap (if you would rather not get your hair wet), and perhaps a floating device to help get you started. Go out and enjoy your time! Swimming can be done in so many places, and it will help you feel strong, energized and also refreshed, especially in the summer!

Greg

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