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Shot of a young woman enjoying the benefits of swimming

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If the heat is getting to you and making it hard to hit the gym, you might be looking for a refreshing exercise.

Swimming offers tremendous health perks. The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that people who swim regularly face a 28 percent lower risk of all-cause death and a 41 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or complications. Meanwhile, the Office of Minority Health reports that Black people face a 30 percent higher risk than whites of dying from heart disease. But, Live Strong reports Black swimmers only make up 0.14 percent of folks who regularly go for a heart-healthy swim. It’s time to throw on your suit and hop in the water. Here are refreshing workouts you can do in the water.


The Benefits Of Swimming

Close up of African American woman's legs in the pool.

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It’s An Arthritis-Friendly Workout

People who suffer from osteoarthritis can turn to swimming as a safe exercise that’s gentle on their joints. One study from the Journal of Rheumatology found that swimming three days a week can ease joint pain and relieve stiffness in those with arthritis.


It’s A Mood Booster

Medium shot of smiling woman underwater in pool while on vacation

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The National Library of Medicine reports that swimming can fight anxiety, depression and anger issues in both men and women. The combination of endorphins plus the freedom of movement that’s achieved in the water can work together to elevate one’s mood.


It Improves Mental Health During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman swimming underwater

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The National Library of Medicine also reports that swimming can improve the mental health of pregnant women. Additionally, many pregnant women find it to be one of the more comfortable exercises later in pregnancy. A large belly makes other forms of exercise uncomfortable and even dangerous, but water exercises but no pressure on the skeleton or that baby belly. (Note that pregnant women should not dive).


It Improves Flexibility

Three senior women doing water aerobics

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Regular swimming can improve flexibility. If you’re looking for a new way to boost flexibility aside from yoga or Pilates, try some water-based exercises.


It’s An Osteoporosis-Friendly Sport

Water aerobics group

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Swimming is also a safe exercise for those who have osteoporosis. The National Council on Aging reports that Black women suffer worse consequences from osteoporosis-related fractures than white women. That stat makes a safe and gentle workout like swimming especially important for this group.


Water-Based Workouts To Try

Happy young woman in sunny, luxury swimming pool

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If you love to walk, then the good news is you can keep up your regular routine, just in the water. The added resistance provided by the water makes a stroll across a pool challenging in a good way. You can switch things up by walking sideways or backward or increasing your speed for a bit more resistance.

Leg Circles

Stand at the edge of the pool, with the wall on one side of your body. Using whichever leg is away from the wall, do a series of 10 forward kicks. Then raise that leg up to your side 10 times. Then do 10 backward kicks. Repeat the process on the other side, switching which side of your body faces the wall.

Board Planking

In this exercise, you’ll use a foam board to add resistance. A noodle can also be used. Standing up straight, you’ll hold your board or noodle out in front of you, keeping your arms straight and about shoulder-width apart. Then you will submerge the floating device into the water about half a foot to a foot. As it tries to pop back up, work to keep it down, while keeping your toes on the ground. This offers a great upper body workout.


You’ll stay on the shallow end of the pool for this workout so that your head remains above water. In this exercise, you’ll do the same types of lunges you’d do on land. You start by standing straight, then taking one big step forward with your right foot. Slowly dip your body down, until your right thigh sits parallel to the bottom of the pool. Stand up straight, and repeat on the other side. Alternate legs until you make it all the way across the shallow end of the pool.


If you aren’t trying to get into competitive swimming, breaststroke is a simple swimming style that provides a great workout. Some call it “froggy style” swim because you kick your legs behind you in the circular motion that a frog does, while thrusting your arms straight ahead of you, and pushing them out and to your sides to propel through the water. For an excellent leg workout, you can also do just half of this swim and support your upper body with a foam board, only doing the leg motion.


Safety Tips For Pool Exercises

Shot of an unrecognisable woman going for a swim at a beauty spa

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While swimming and water-based exercises are some of the lower-impact workouts, there are still safety considerations. These include:


  • Stay in shallow water. It’s best to do your workouts in water that is no deeper than waist or chest high.
  • Consult a physician. Many physical therapists and doctors rave about the benefits of swimming for patients with several conditions. However, do speak to yours before beginning a water-based workout routine.
  • Stay hydrated. It can be hard to notice that you’re sweating while in water, but pool-based workouts make you perspire just as much as land ones do. So drink plenty of water.
  • Consider the temperature. This is another thing to discuss with your doctor. Some swimmers should not submerge themselves in very cold temperatures due to health conditions.
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