Swimming provides a range of health benefits. As well as allowing us to work our heart and lungs, increase flexibility within the joints and strengthen a variety of muscles, the relaxing, almost meditational nature of swimming can also lead to a greater sense of mental wellbeing. Here we explore the health benefits and reasons for including swimming in your weekly fitness regime.

As we become virtually weightless in water, our joints are given a rest from the stress usually exerted on them and much less strain is placed on the body. Research carried out at the University of Virginia found that when a person is submerged up to the neck, water can reduce body weight by up to 90%. This reduction of pressure on the joints significantly reduces the risk of injury during exercise.

Most of us would agree that certain land based sports, such as running, often lead to a feeling of aching or stiffness within the joints and muscles. Swimming, on the other hand, can help to ease pain as the pressure is removed from the load bearing joints. For this reason, having a good pool fitness regime is exceptionally useful for those who find land based exercise too strenuous or painful, perhaps due to existing health conditions or previous injuries.

Mind, body and spirit

As well as helping to build endurance, physical strength and cardiovascular fitness, swimming is widely believed to help reduce stress and often provides other psychological benefits. Swimming and pool fitness can also serve to improve posture, and a good pool fitness regime can result in a stronger, leaner physique.
Exercising within your pool is not limited to swimming. Water workouts are used by people of all ages and of all levels of physical fitness. Water workouts combine many essentials elements of fitness, including cardio respiratory endurance, flexibility and muscular strength.
As well as aqua aerobics, there are several types of pool fitness workouts that you may wish to consider. To look into learning the techniques to use in your own pool, you may wish to speak to your local leisure centre as many classes are available nationwide. You could also consider purchasing a DVD or self training guide, many of which are available online.

Popular Pool Fitness Programmes

Below is a brief description of just a few of the popular pool fitness training programmes you may wish to look into:

  • Aqua aerobics – An aerobic pool fitness routine carried out using floats and props. The diversity of movements means that muscles are worked from every angle, against the resistance of the water. This provides a great all-round muscle toning and cardiovascular workout.
  • Aqua combat – A series of karate and kickboxing moves performed whilst standing in waist high water. This resistance based workout is designed to strengthen your stomach, core muscles, arms and legs. Such exercises can help to improve balance, flatten the stomach and strengthen the back.
  • Aqua yoga – Offers a very gentle workout and is basically yoga performed in waist deep water. The water supports weaker joints allowing you to perform stretches that would prove harder on land. This kind of exercise is recommended for pregnant women as pressure on the abdomen is reduced and flexibility is promoted. It is also beneficial for people with arthritis as so little pressure is exerted on the joints.
  • Aqua jogging – Involves running in water. It can help boost your heart rate and strengthen muscles within the hips and legs. A buoyancy belt is used to help keep you upright as you run on the spot and the intention is generally to start in shallow water, running the length of the pool until the water reaches your neck. Physiotherapists recommend this kind of exercise for back problems and it can be great for regaining strength following an injury.
  • Watsu – A type of pool exercise that is designed to relieve stress, and other related problems including low immunity and disrupted sleep. It combines shiatsu massage with the effects of weightlessness. Watsu involves gentle stretches carried out in rhythm with your breathing, helping to induce a state of deep relaxation.

For smaller pools.

Not everyone has the space for a pool long enough to swim full laps, but there is a solution.

The Badu Counter Current unit will do exactly what it says. It will produce a stream of water that is strong enough to swim against so that, effectively, the swimmer stays stationery relative to the pool no matter how hard they swim.

A pump draws water in through many openings located around the back of the nozzle housing before jetting it back into the pool as a powerful stream of up to 85 m³/hr via a directional nozzle. On built in models, the jet nozzle swivels 60° in each direction allowing the stream of water to be adjusted to suit individual swimmers requirements. The jet housing is produced from high quality stainless steel to create an eye-catching feature within the pool.

A Badu Counter Current unit will let you exercise effectively in even the smallest of pools.

Is swimming part of your fitness regime? How do you use the pool to relax and unwind? How have you got on? We’d love to hear from you. Use the comments box below to tell us about your own experiences.