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Make a splash: Stay fit with swimming this summer

Staying fit doesn’t have to mean slogging away on the treadmill or sweating it out in a cardio class. Now that it’s summer and the heat is on, some of us are partial to hitting the pool as a way to burn calories (while staying cool) and get our fitness fix. But just what does working out in the water have to offer? Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Woman swimmer in pool

To learn more about making the most of your time in the pool,  we turned to celebrity trainer and fitness expert Jay Cardiello. He shares his insights into the many benefits of water workouts and tips for revving up your swim sessions.

Swimming: Body benefits

Aside from making us feel great, swimming has many benefits that make us want to don our favorite suit and dive in — and Cardiello shared seven of the most significant:

  • Increased muscle tone and conditioning (bikini bod, here we come)
  • Increased cardiovascular endurance and conditioning
  • Increased flexibility and joint range of motion
  • Increased caloric burn and expenditure
  • Reduced cholesterol
  • Heightened emotional balance and stability
  • Decreased muscle stiffness and joint pain

Getting started: The ideal water workout

Quick tip: Try the Go Swim app (free for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) to further improve your pool time. The handy app offers swimming tips, videos, drills, workouts and more to help keep you motivated.

Not sure where what to do once you dive in? Start with a slow swim anywhere from 200 to 400 meters to warm up — a must if you want to get an effective water workout, says Cardiello. Next, pick a stroke you like (front crawl, breast stroke) and implement a fun interval training workout. “This will keep intensity high, while avoiding a burnout,” he advises. Try alternating between a faster stroke for two minutes and a slower pace for 45 to 60 seconds, for a total of 45 minutes. Perform a cool down by swimming a few laps at a leisurely pace and finish with some static stretching after you exit the pool.

Improve your pool time: Supplement your swimming

When you’re swimming for fitness it’s important to add other exercises that will help you in the water, Cardiello advises. He shares a few other supplemental moves that will help rev up your water workout this summer.

  • Core: Get your midsection in shape (especially the lower lumbar and lower abdominal region) to support and maintain position throughout the stroke. Add planks, side planks and lower-back extensions to your strength training routine.
  • Posterior development: Build up your back region and posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) with lat pull-downs, seated and dumbbell rows, dead lifts and weighted step-ups.
  • Shoulders: Enhance shoulder strength (and swim speed) with presses, reverse flys and internal and external shoulder rotations.
  • Proprioception work: Improve coordination, agility and strength in the pool with balance boards and wobble boards.

The main thing we like about the pool (aside from the cooling break from the heat) is the fun twist it adds to our weekly workout. Whether you have a pool, join a gym that has one or hit the local swimming hole, there are a whole host of reasons to dive in.

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