11
Dec

Swimming & Depression: A Natural Treatment for Depression

swimming to treat depressionAs one of the most popular sports in the US, the sport of swimming offers an array of benefits to both physical and mental health and wellness. Some of the top reasons why swimming is an all-around great sport include:

  • It can be a low- or high-intensity cardio workout without stressing or impacting your bones or joints like running
  • It helps to quickly build endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular health
  • Not only does it help you maintain a healthy weight, but it also keeps your heart and lungs healthy, too
  • It’s a great way to keep your body strong and toned
  • The workout itself requires the work of nearly every muscle in your body

In addition to these perks, swimming can also be a relaxing and peaceful exercise that helps alleviate stress. Because it’s a low-impact sport, swimming can improve everything from coordination and flexibility to balance and posture. Moreover, swimming is hugely beneficial as therapy for an array of injuries and physical and mental conditions.

While the physical benefits of swimming are undeniable, many people don’t realize just how much of a positive impact the sport can have on mental health. In this article, you’ll learn how swimming is and can be used as a natural remedy for depression.

What Is Depression?

Depression, or major depressive disorder as it’s called in medical circles, is a common and serious medical mental illnesses that affects at least 16.2 million adults in the United States. Though treatable, depression causes individuals to experience feelings of sadness and/or to lose interest in activities that they’ve previously enjoyed. If gone untreated, this illness can present an array of different symptoms including:

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Experiencing a prolonged depressed mood
  • Losing interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • Changes in appetite that cause weight loss or weight gain
  • Sleeping issues – too much or not enough
  • Intense fatigue or abnormal decrease in energy
  • Difficulties concentrating, focusing, or making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death  

In order to be diagnosed with depression, patients must experience these symptoms for at least two weeks, at which point doctors typically prescribe medication to help balance out these mental and physical symptoms. While antidepressants can – and do – help reduce serious depression symptoms, it can result in many unwanted side effects like nausea, increased appetite and weight gain, loss of sexual desire, fatigue and drowsiness, insomnia, and more.

If you struggle with depression or have been treated for depression in the past, you may have experienced what many patients often do when prescribed anti-depression medication: feelings of fogginess, dizziness, or even numbness. While the medicine might be doing its job to treat depression, there are alternative means of treating this illness other than prescription drugs. Swimming, for example, is scientifically proven to be a natural antidepressant.

How Swimming Is a Natural Treatment for Depression

A study released in the British Medical Journal outlines how swimming weekly in cold water can, within four months, deem depression patients drug- and symptom-free. Though an unconventional means of treatment, scientists are finding that swimming can prove beneficial for those who struggle with depression but don’t want to be treated medicinally.

The study found that by immersing the body in cold water, the immediate cooling of the skin actually shocks the body. This shock triggers stress responses in the body. After multiple, repeated cold water exposure, the body actually adapts to the exposure in a process referred to as habituation. One of the theories behind this stress-triggered response is that swimming in cold water alters the way your conscious mind reacts to stressful situations. Instead of reacting with feelings of depression and anxiety, your body instead learns to respond in a logical and stress-free manner.

While studies are ongoing to delve deeper into water therapy for depression, swimming in general – regardless of the water temperature – can do wonders for reducing the severity of depression. Below you’ll find how swimming can have positive mental and physical effects that help to offset the symptoms of depression.

Psychological Benefits of Swimming

When it comes to swimming and depression, it’s important to take into account the physiological effects of the exercise. Hard, intense swimming workouts cause the body to release endorphins, which are the “happy, feel-good” chemicals in your brain. These endorphins counteract any fight-or-flight stress hormones by transforming them into hormones that instead help the body to relax. Furthermore, swimming is shown to boost “hippocampal neurogenesis,” or the growth of new brain cells that help prevent breakdowns during times of chronic stress.

Physical Benefits of Swimming

Like many natural remedies for depression, swimming can have profound physical effects. In order to swim, the body must complete a repetitive cycle that alternates between the stretching and relaxation of skeletal muscles, as well as a deep, rhythmic breathing pattern. These key components of swimming are similar to that of exercises like yoga and progressive muscle relaxation, which are designed to evoke a stress-free response. After ample practice, these movements become habitual and intuitive, providing the brain with a break from the unpleasantries that often fuel depressive behaviors.   

If you’re struggling with how to treat depression, consider starting a regular swimming regimen as a natural remedy for depression. While the effects may not be immediate, chances are very high that you’ll experience the undeniable benefits in the long run. If nothing else, you’ll be able to practice a full-body workout that doesn’t just exercise your heart, lungs, and muscles, but also gives your brain some much-needed reprieve, too. Get started with treating your depression today by learning about these eight different styles and strokes you can use while swimming.

27
Nov

Swimming Techniques: How to Properly Breathe When Swimming

Did you know there is a certain breathing technique that swimmers can use to improve their performance? Much like biking and running, swimming requires a steady rhythm of breath, but unlike those land sports, improper breathing techniques while swimming can fill your lungs with water, put a much greater strain on your muscles, and really slow you down.

In this article, we’ll teach you how to breathe while swimming so you can make the most of every lap and greatly improve your performance in the water.

Before we dive right in, it’s important for you to understand that breathing while swimming is a skill. Learning how to breathe while swimming requires patience, practice, and perseverance.

One of the hardest steps to mastering these breathing techniques is to overcome your natural and instinctive fear of drowning. When swimming, the proper form that enables optimal performance is often difficult for swimmers to master.

swimming techniques

Photo Credit: MaloriMay

Why? Because this proper form brings you face to face with the water, causing a knee-jerk reaction to hold your breath or raise your head higher above the surface. Both reactions are completely normal. You would have to be crazy to expose your airways to a rush of water like that without finding some level of discomfort. Regardless, these survival instincts will most definitely slow you down and hinder your performance.

As you practice proper form and breathing techniques for swimming, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come naturally to you. Be patient with yourself, reward your best efforts, and stick with it! Once you’ve learned how to breathe like a champion, the rest will come fairly easy to you.

Now, it’s time to learn how to breathe while swimming. Use these tips and best practices to master the art of breathing to become a better and more confident swimmer.

Keep Your Head Down

As we mentioned earlier, you may feel the instinctive urge to raise your head high above the water while you train or turn your face away from the surface of the water. Doing this will result in poor performance and can even lead to injury.

When you raise or turn your head while mid-stroke, not only do you strain the muscles in your back, neck, and shoulders, but you also cause your hips to drop. Raising your head and lowering your hips in the water will increase resistance and muscle strain, which will make every stroke a lot more difficult for you. Use these tips to keep your head down while you swim:

  • Focus on the black line that runs along the bottom of the pool in the center of the lane.
  • Invest in a pair of comfortable goggles that really keep the water out.
  • Fight anxiety with reassuring pep talks and reminders that the edge of the pool is never too far away.

Time Your Breathing

For a truly effective breathing routine, you must learn how to time your breathing with your swimming. Every breath and every stroke must be perfectly in sync to the same rhythm to ensure a proper flow of oxygen. Common stroke-to-breath combinations are 2 strokes per breath or 3 strokes per breath. Find what you are comfortable with to start, and maybe increase your strokes-per-breath as you get stronger. A swim instructor can really help with your breathing rhythm.

It’s also important to exhale as soon as you finish inhaling—this means exhaling while your face is in the water. It is natural for us to hold our breath when our face dips below the water, and this is the most common and difficult habit to break among beginners. Many beginning swimmers hold their breath underwater and try to catch up with a quick inhale and exhale when they emerge for that brief moment before dipping below the water again. This leads to an accidental dose of water through the nasal passages and a debilitating buildup of carbon dioxide in the lungs.

If you really want to master the right breathing technique for swimming, you must learn how to retrain your brain to accept the fact that you can exhale when your face is underwater. Take a deep breath in when you turn your head, and exhale completely while your face is below the surface of the water while you turn your head to the other side.

Practice Practice Practice

Remember that breathing is a skill, and just like any other skill, it will require plenty of practice to master. Don’t give up! Fight your fears and develop a smooth rhythm to breathe while you swim. For extra help, check out SwimJim’s classes for all ages and skill levels!

20
Nov

Top Blog Articles for Beginner Swim Workouts

There’s little more intimidating and daunting to beginning swimmers than showing up at the pool, ready for a workout, but feeling unsure of what to do. You may know the strokes, but how can you combine them together into beginner level swim workouts that will improve your swimming and give your body a good workout?

If you’re new to swimming, you might be wondering where you can find information on learning to swim and swim workouts for beginners. We’ve compiled some of the best beginner swim workouts to make sure you are never uncertain or bored at the pool. To get some ideas for your swim workouts and to learn more about swimming for exercise, take a look a look at these must-read blog posts for beginning swimmers.

swim workout

Photo Credit: monkik

Taking the Plunge

If you are new to swimming, you may want to learn a little more about swimming strokes, swimming techniques, swimming terms, and more. Additionally, your motivation to swim for exercise might be strengthened by understanding how swimming can benefit you. Start your swimming journey with these informational blog posts:

How to Start Swimming for Exercise: This article will walk you through the information and gear you need to get started with swimming for exercise, as well as how to put together your own swim workouts.

How to Learn to Swim for Beginners: Starting from the very beginning? This guide will teach you a few swimming techniques you can try on your own as you are beginning to learn how to swim for exercise.

Swimming Glossary: Every sport has its jargon. Learn to understand and talk like swimmers with this guide to common swimming terms.

How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn?: Swimming is great exercise, and this blog post breaks down how swim workouts benefit adults looking to improve their fitness.

Which Muscles Do I Build While Swimming?: Swimming is a low-impact exercise that benefits muscles throughout your body while doing minimal damage. Read through this post to find out how each type of swimming stroke benefits your muscles.

How to Start Swim Training Without Embarrassing Yourself: Embarrassment or self-consciousness about your skill might be a barrier to swimming for exercise. This blogger offers readers a few ways to get over their fears and start swimming.

Swim Workouts for Beginners

Once you know a little more about swimming for exercise and how to get started, it’s time to head to the pool. Before you go, look through these blog posts for ideas for beginner swim workouts that are great for your fitness and swimming skill level.

Low Impact Swimming Exercises for Beginners: This post walks you through a week by week swim workout plan for beginners that builds your fitness over time.

11 One-Hour Medley Swim Workouts: This post starts with a quick glossary and then outlines 11 one-hour swim workouts that hit all the competitive swimming strokes. These workouts are great for beginners who are looking for a challenge, and who are familiar with the strokes and have the stamina to swim for an hour.

This Beginner Swimming Workout Burns Major Calories in Just 30 Minutes: Don’t have an hour to go swimming? Shred major calories in less time with this beginner friendly—but still hard core—swim workout.

Beginner Swimming Workouts: Shake things up with 10 different swim workouts that focus on building endurance and fitness. Each workout builds on the last with the goal of stretching you into an intermediate swimming fitness level.

Free Swimming Workouts for Beginners and Advanced Swimmers by Kiefer: This website offers swimmers a free week-by-week, month-by-month swimming workout plan, including short, long, and beginner versions. Stop by for regular updates.

Get Your Dream Abs from Swimming: Looking to build a six-pack? Swimming is a great workout to help you get there. These swim workouts for abs target your core and leave you stronger and, eventually, looking even better in your swimming suit.

Master the Strokes

As a beginner, you want to focus on your form when you swim, even if your main focus is burning calories. Proper stroke technique will help you move faster in the water and fully use (and benefit) every muscle involved in swimming. Not to mention, you’ll look and feel better as you swim the strokes correctly. These blog posts will help you fine tune your technique and master the swim strokes.

Basic Swimming Techniques: Use this collection of WikiHow articles to teach yourself everything from the doggie paddle to the dolphin kick. Bookmark this page and come back to these articles when you have questions or would like to learn something new.

8 Different Swimming Styles and Strokes: As you add swimming into your exercise routine, review these basic strokes and try something new.

Swim Faster and Smoother with these Freestyle Stroke Techniques: Freestyle is the most basic competitive stroke, and is probably the one you’ll use the most when doing your swim workouts. Read this article to make sure you are doing the freestyle stroke correctly.

After reading these blog posts and selecting a few swim workouts for beginners to try out, you are ready to grab your goggles, cap, and swimsuit and head to the pool for a great workout. To improve your swimming skills and get even more out of your workouts, check out SwimJim’s swimming classes for all ages and skill levels.

13
Nov

Which Muscles Do I Build While Swimming?

Do you love swimming? If so, you’re not alone. Ranked just behind running as one of the nations five most popular activities, swimming offers a means of exercise and enjoyment for people of all ages. From young kids just getting a feel for the water to senior citizens who use the sport to say active, limber, and agile, swimming is something that can offer an array of benefits to an array of people.

7 Reasons Why Swimming Is A Great Sport

If you’ve been a lifelong advocate of swimming, then we don’t need to convince you why the sport is one of the best on the planet. However, if you’re still unsure whether or not swimming is for you, perhaps the following information can change your mind. Check out the top 7 reasons swimming might be a great sport for you:

  1. The buoyancy of the water diminishes the demands of gravity, which makes it the ideal low-impact sport for people looking to put little stress on bones and joints.
  2. Instead of running several miles with very few burned calories to prove for it, in just an hour of swimming you can burn 500 calories or more.
  3. As odd as it may seem, swimming has been shown to help encourage smokers to stop the harmful habit.
  4. Swimming is a welcoming sport for people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. You don’t have to be a professional athlete or have any special skill to participate. Whether you’re a beginner or have been swimming for years, the sport encourages everyone to come as they are.
  5. Swimming is a great cardio workout and often considered to be the best aerobic sport. Between improved breath control and better blood circulation, you’ll find that your entire cardiovascular health can be improved through swimming.
  6. Unlike sports such as basketball, football, running, and skiing, you won’t find yourself needing to retire from swimming as you age. The low-impact nature of swimming makes it a lifetime sport that will almost always be an option.
  7. Lastly, one of the greatest perks of swimming is that it offers a total-body workout. From toning your arms and legs to sculpting your back and abs, the swimming muscles you’ll build are unlike anything else.
build swimming muscles

Photo Credit: Vac1

In this article, we’re going to focus on the last of swimming’s benefits: its full-body workout. It’s one thing to know you’re getting great exercise when swimming, but it’s something else entirely when you know exactly what muscles you’re building while enjoying the sport. So, what muscles does swimming work? Keep reading to learn about the swimming muscles you’ll work and build with each type of swimming stroke.

Swimming Muscles Used With Breaststroke

As the easiest stroke for first-time and amateur swimmers, breaststroke comes naturally to most people. The scooping-and-streamlining arms and “frog” kick make it an easy, comfortable, and effective stroke for many swimmers to master. The muscles used in swimming breaststroke are:

  • Hand muscles
  • Forearm flexor and extensor muscles
  • Biceps, triceps, and deltoids
  • Neck muscles
  • Back muscles
  • Trapezius muscles
  • Spinal cord support muscles
  • Teres major and minor muscles
  • Rhomboid major and minor muscles
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Groin muscles
  • Hamstrings and quadriceps
  • Calf muscles

In order to do breaststroke properly, every aspect of the body must be engaged. Therefore, in addition to the aforementioned areas, you’ll also be working muscles you maybe never knew you had such as shin and various foot muscles. Check out this video to see these muscles in action.

Swimming Muscles Used With Backstroke and Freestyle

As the second easiest stroke to master, backstroke also comes naturally to many swimmers. Interestingly enough, because they are almost identical in body movements, backstroke and freestyle use almost the exact same muscles. Where the two differ comes in how the strokes are performed. As its name suggests, backstroke, also known as the back crawl, is done on your back. Freestyle, or front crawl, is done on your stomach. Both strokes use the following muscles:

  • Hand muscles
  • Forearm flexor and extensor muscle
  • Biceps, triceps, and deltoids
  • Shoulder muscles
  • Neck muscles
  • Chest muscles
  • Side muscles
  • Outer abdominal muscles
  • Inner abdominal muscles
  • Back muscles
  • Trapezius muscles
  • spinal cord support muscles
  • Teres major and minor
  • Rhomboid major and minor
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Groin muscles

Similar to breaststroke, freestyle and backstroke also engage muscles in the feet, shins, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. You can watch the muscles working in both backstroke and freestyle.

Swimming Muscles Used With Butterfly

Notorious for being the most difficult of the four strokes, the butterfly is both physically demanding and strenuous on the body. In order to properly propel yourself, the muscles in your upper body, back, and legs must be fully engaged. In addition to some of the minor muscles mentioned in breaststroke, freestyle, and backstroke, the key muscles used in butterfly include:

  • Back muscles
  • Trapezius muscles
  • Spinal cord support muscles
  • Teres major and minor
  • Rhomboid major and minor
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Groin muscles
  • Hamstrings and quadriceps
  • Calf muscles
  • Several different foot muscles

Watch all these muscles in action in this video. If you’re interested in the full-body workout swimming provides, sign up for one of our classes today.

30
Oct

3 Simple and Fun Swimming Games to Play at the Pool

Although the weather is cooling down, it’s no excuse to stop swimming. Hit an indoor pool to escape the cool weather blues! If you get bored sitting poolside, kick you pool days up a notch or two with these exciting pool games.

1. Chicken Fights

Safe enough for beginner swimmers and fun enough for swimmers of all ages to enjoy, chicken fights is a classic pool game that involves balance, strategy, and strength.

How to play: Players must pair off into teams of two, preferably with older, bigger children as the base and smaller children as the “fighter.” With the lighter player atop the shoulders of the larger player, participating teams will face each other in the shallow end of the pool. A “judge” or “referee” (typically an onlooking adult or older child) will start the competition at which point the fighters will wrestle each other with the goal of knocking the opposing team down and into the water.

Safety tip: Consider implementing rules for fighters such as no head shots and no punching or scratching, and require each base player to keep hold of the fighters ankles at all time. Remember to play in shallow water to prevent drowning. Not only will this make the game more fun, but it will also ensure players stay as safe as possible.

2. Bumper Beach Balls

Bring the concept of bumper cars to the safety of pool waters by arming each player with their own individual beach ball.

How to play: Rope off a section in the shallow end of the pool that’s large enough for all payers to have a three- to four-foot radius and give each player a beach ball large enough to hold on to. On the count of three, players should use their beach balls as they would a bumper car, with the goal of bumping other players into the rope. Players who touch the rope are deemed “out” until only one player remains.

Safety tip: Implement immediate disqualification rules for any players who use aggressive force (i.e. kicking, shoving, hitting) and require all players to keep at least one hand on the beach ball at all times.  

3. Pigeon

Guaranteed to be a new favorite pool party game, Pigeon is a game that requires adequate swimming, diving and/or jumping skills, as it’s intended for deeper waters.

How to play: Ideal for groups of five or more, Pigeon players are to align themselves along one side of the deep end. A chosen “Pigeon Master” will call out a variety of different words beginning with the letter “p” in an effort to trick players into diving into the water. For example, the Pigeon Master might call out something along the lines of, “Pig stye! Pumpkin patch! Pig latin! Paper weight! Popsicle! PIGEON!”  Once the word “pigeon” is shouted, all players must dive into the deep end and swim as fast as possible to the other side where they are to quickly climb out of the water. The last player to remain in the water (this includes feet and toes!) is out. The Pigeon Master will repeat this trickery until only one player remains.

Safety tip: Encourage the use of goggles so swimmers can see where they are going underwater and ensure that players are spaced out enough to prevent any injuries.

 

Perhaps the best part about pool games is that they can easily be modified and adjusted to keep your pool crew safe and satisfied. Whether you use these games as inspiration for your own versions or add different elements to make them easier or more challenging, having a repertoire of swimming pool games to play is key for a good time.

What’s even more important, however, is ensuring that everyone in your family or group of friends has the swimming skills needed to safely enjoy the pool. Consider signing up for swimming lessons in order to be properly prepared for a summer of poolside fun.

23
Oct

What You Need to Know about Dry Drowning

It’s every parent’s nightmare. The very thought of losing a child to an accident is so horrific, we don’t want to think about it. Many childhood accidents happen during fun activities like riding vehicles, climbing, or doing other active things that come with risks. Swimming fits into this category. It is something that feels so normal as a regular activity in man people’s lives, but it also strikes that deepest fear in parents. Keeping kids safe during swimming is the first priority.

One risk of swimming that we hear about but might not quite understand is dry drowning.

What is dry drowning?

Though not a medical term, dry drowning occurs when water gets into the airway and causes the vocal cords to spasm and close up. No water actually reaches the lungs, but the constriction of the airway makes breathing difficult and requires immediate attention.

What are the symptoms of dry drowning?

You will notice the symptoms of dry drowning right away since difficulty breathing causes severe responses. Contrary to common belief, dry drowning does not happen days after swimming. The dry part of dry drowning refers to the fact that no water enters the lungs, not from it occuring well after swimming.

The scenario in which a person can suffer from drowning, or difficulty breathing due to water entering the airways, is commonly known as secondary drowning. This results from water entering the lungs and irritating the lining of the lungs. This can trigger a pulmonary edema, or buildup of fluids in the lungs. Symptoms of secondary drowning include trouble breathing, coughing, extreme fatigue and irritability resulting from a lack of oxygen to the brain, and chest pain. If these symptoms arise, you should take your child to the emergency room immediately for tests, treatment, and observation.

Experts use the term spectrum of drowning to cover dry drowning and secondary drowning, since neither is technically a medical term. Both dry drowning and secondary drowning are extremely rare. They comprise only 1-2 percent of all incidents of drowning. They are, however, very serious.

How to prevent dry drowning

To help prevent them from happening, always watch your child when around water. Even a small body of water can be dangerous. Never let your child swim alone. It is also important to pay extra attention when swimming in crowded public pools. Drowning of any kind can happen very quickly, so keeping an eye on children is essential.

In addition to maintaining a watchful eye when your kids are near water, look up swimming lessons. From infants to older children, there are many options for classes and programs that are designed to help kids become strong and safe swimmers. When you take your kids swimming, start them off slow and always be vigilant. Even if your child is a strong swimmer, it is recommended that they always wear life jackets when playing in natural bodies of water. These can have currents that can get the better of even the strongest swimmers.

Getting children familiar and comfortable with water will serve them well throughout their lives. These preventive measures, along with knowing the signs of dry drowning and secondary drowning, will help keep your child safe around water.

Swimming lessons are a great way to teach your children safety and awareness around water. Sign up for swimming lessons today.

 

16
Oct

Can Swimming Lessons Improve Academic Success?

Can swimming lessons improve your math score?

It seems like a weird connection to make, but swimming lessons and other forms of physical activity actually improve children’s development in many important areas, helping them with school readiness and bolstering their academic success.

Researchers hypothesize that the sense of achievement children feel from participating and improving in physical activities such as swimming is what motivates them to do their best in school as well. “The chance of experiencing success in sports raises pupils’ confidence and self-esteem,” says Dr. Emily Tanner, lead investigator of a study conducted by NatCen Social Research. “Activities like after school clubs can help a child value school in a new way and establish stronger relationships with staff.”

Social skills were also improved, which helps to give kids a positive school experience, making them want to do their best in school.

Studies have shown that kids who participate in organized sports and other forms of physical activity are 1.5 times more likely to have higher grades in math by the end of elementary school. Those who participate in swimming, in particular, tend to be developmentally ahead of their counterparts who don’t. In a study out of Australia’s Griffith University, children who swam scored significantly higher in a number of categories that are critical for starting school–-language development, physical development, and cognitive development. They had better visual-motor skills like coloring, drawing lines and shapes, and cutting paper, as well as improvements in many mathematical tasks.

Language Development

Language is what allows us to communicate. It’s an essential life skill that begins developing before a child can even speak, such as an infant crying to get fed or changed. Contrary to popular belief, language is not synonymous with speech. It involves understanding an array of social standards, and the ability to pick up on the meanings behind words, put words together in a way that makes sense and communicates needs, and comprehend information coming from others. Language skills are necessary for children to be able to relate to their peers, parents, and teachers.

Physical Development

This includes not only physical growth but also the ability to effectively use the muscles and body parts that develop for particular skills. Typically gross motor skills (large muscle movements) are developed first, such as walking and running, followed by fine motor skills, such as writing and cutting. These motor skill milestones are crucial when children are young, as they are building a foundation upon which any future physical skills will rest. It should come as no surprise that participation in organized physical activities such as swimming will aid a child’s physical development, but its importance cannot be overstated.

Cognitive Development

Basically, cognitive development entails a child’s learning process–learning to think consciously, solve problems, and reason. Typically, most preschoolers are starting to ask questions about the world around them and develop their own understanding of how it works. They learn best by playing, listening, watching, and doing things on their own.

With this in mind, it makes sense why engaging in swimming and other sports would foster cognitive development. Participating in sports requires paying attention, listening to directions, asking questions, and watching examples–all things that are part of cognitive development.

Taken together–language, physical, and cognitive development–these three things are the primary facets of school readiness. And the more ready a child is for school, the more successful they can be once they get there.

Set your child up for success by signing them up for swimming lessons with Swim Jim!

9
Oct

How Young Can Children Start Swimming Lessons?

Newborn swimming classes are all the rage. Nearly every swimming pool is offering baby swimming classes, and videos go around showing how swimming classes can help prevent babies from drowning. Whether you want your kids to be the next Michael Phelps or you just want them to be comfortable and safe in the water, here are some things to consider to figure out how young your children can start swimming lessons.

Is it okay for babies to take swimming lessons?

Originally, the American Association of Pediatrics had said that children can safely start taking swimming lessons starting at age four. In 2010 though, the AAP lowered that age to one after seeing studies that showed promising results of preventing baby drowning. Baby classes, which usually start allowing babies to participate at around six months old, can teach babies how to float on their backs if they fall in the water. This is a vital skill, especially because one of the leading causes of death of children 1-2 years old is drowning. Additionally, baby lessons can be a great opportunity to bond with your child and have fun. Parents often learn essential water safety skills themselves and learn important information about what to do in a water emergency.

Starting baby swimming lessons can definitely help keep your child safe. But remember, that doesn’t mean they’re drown-proof. Barbara Byers, public education director for the Lifesaving Society in Toronto, warns that putting babies and toddlers in swimming lessons may give parents a false sense of security. Parents may think that because their baby or toddler has taken swimming lessons that they will be fine playing in the water unsupervised, which is not the case. Babies can also forget how to float and may need more courses to keep their skills up.

How do I know if my child can start swimming lessons?

After baby swimming lessons, there are options for children between ages one and four. If your local pool offers classes for this age, make sure that the instructors are certified and that they pay close attention to the children before you let your child start.

Beginning around age five, kids really begin to retain the muscle memory and technique necessary to actually be able to swim. However, if your child is a fast learner and has a good memory, he or she might be able to start swimming lessons at a younger age. Don’t force your children to take swimming lessons if they are frightened of the water or if they aren’t enjoying the classes. The more mature your child is, the better able he or she will handle newer environments, different teachers, and more classmates.

Other things to consider before putting your child in swimming lessons

When thinking about when to put your child in swimming lessons, another factor to consider is your environment. If your home is near streams, canals, or rivers, water safety is a must. If your family participates in water-related recreation, like fishing or boating, swimming lessons are also a great idea and you may want to get your child started on lessons earlier.

Depending on your local resources, you may need to wait to put your child in swimming lessons. Check out your nearby pool and ask if all the employees are Red Cross certified. Make sure the pool is clean, and ask how many students are allowed in a class. Review the criteria for each class offered to decide which one will best suit your child.

Depending on your situation, you can review these points to decide how young your children can start swimming lessons. To see what kinds of classes are offered near you, check out our swimming lesson options for children.

2
Oct

How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn?

Find the Answer: Does Swimming Burn More Calories than Running?

We all enjoyed playing in the pool and swimming as kids, but why should the fun stop there? Adults can still enjoy their time in the pool, all while getting a great workout that burns calories and helps them get fit. If you’ve ever wondered, “how many calories does swimming burn?” we’re here to put your curiosity to rest, and maybe even give you a reason to jump in the pool more often.   

What Are Calories?

Before we jump in and answer, “how many calories does swimming burn?” it helps to understand exactly what a calorie is. A calorie, by definition, is simply a unit of measurement. In a scientific sense, a calorie is “the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.” To think of it in terms of how our bodies use calories, you can think of calories as energy your body needs to burn in order to keep moving and working.

 

However, not all calories are created equal. Eating 300 calories of salad and 300 calories of cake, for example, would not have the same effect on your body, even though they have the same caloric content. Other unhealthy foods like soda, white bread, pizza, and ice cream also provide energy in the form of calories, but contain little else. Calories from junk food like this are referred to as “empty calories” because they don’t provide the additional nutrients your body needs. Nutrients from healthy foods contribute to muscle and bone strength and sustain physical performance for longer periods of time.  

How Many Calories Does My Body Need?

How many calories you need to eat per day depends on what your goals are. If your goal is to lose weight, you will need to consume fewer calories than your body needs to maintain your current weight. If you are trying to gain muscle or are very physically active, you will require more calories than the average person of your size and gender.

 

The average calories a person should consume depends on their current age, gender, and activity level. A moderately active female between 19-30 years old requires around 2,000-2,200 calories per day to maintain her current level of weight and energy. Whereas a moderately active male between 19-30 years old requires 2,600-2,800 calories per day to maintain his current weight and energy levels.

Eat Like a Swimmer

For swimmers, the calories burned while swimming will vary depending on the training level, duration, and intensity of the individual. For example, someone who swims for daily exercise and health benefits will not have the same calories burned while swimming as someone who is training for the Olympics.

 

If you plan to get your calories burned through swimming, you will want to plan your meals according to when you plan to exercise. If you plan to work out for an hour or more, make sure you eat some complex carbohydrates and lean protein at least 30 minutes beforehand to fuel your workout. This will give you the energy you need while working out and help so you don’t feel overly exhausted while in the pool. After a workout, be sure to have a handy, healthy snack tucked away in your gym bag to keep you satisfied until you can consume some more lean proteins and carbohydrates.

 

Some good snacks and foods for swimmers are nuts, brown rice, sprouted seeds (mung beans, lentils), broccoli, beetroot, and apricots. These foods are all high in antioxidants and are nutrient rich, which will help you recover faster from your workout.

The Olympic Diet

In 2008, Michael Phelps shocked the general public by announcing his 12,000-calories-per-day diet. Although he later admitted he exaggerated slightly and that it was probably closer to around 8,000-10,000 calories, that’s still way more than the average person, or swimmer, should eat in a day.

 

Phelps’ daily diet was still quite impressive and included:

 

  • 3 fried-egg sandwiches
  • 1 omelet with 5 eggs
  • 1 bowl of grains
  • 3 slices of toast
  • 3 chocolate chip pancakes
  • 2 cups of coffee
  • 2 pounds of pasta
  • 2 ham and cheese sandwiches
  • 1 pizza
  • An undisclosed amount of energy drinks

 

His teammate, Ryan Lochte eats a similar amount of food during training season, and his breakfast often consists of five or six eggs, hash browns, oatmeal, pancakes, fruit, and coffee. When Lochte is prepping for a competition, he will pile on the carbs and make sure he packs in a good meal 2-3 hours before his race. This gives him the energy he needs to compete at a high level of intensity.

 

With all of the food these Olympic-level swimmers consume, it seems amazing that they’re as fit as they are. The explanation lies in the fact that they need the energy these calories provide. Olympic-level athletes can burn around 3,000-10,000 calories a day during their training sessions.

How Many Calories Can You Burn Swimming?

To answer the questions, “how many calories does swimming burn?” and “does swimming burn more calories than running?” there are several factors to consider. These factors include metabolism, duration, intensity, and water temperature.

Metabolism

Metabolism is simply how quickly your body burns calories. This varies from person to person because it involves aspects like gender, body fat and muscle composition, how much you weigh, and more. If your body has more muscle, your metabolism increases. Metabolism is also affected by exercise and increases when your body is active. While it’s hard to say exactly how many calories each individual is burning at any given time because of their metabolism, there are some general examples to give you an idea of calories burned while swimming.

 

For example, a person who weighs 150 lbs will burn around 400-700 calories an hour during their swim session. 400 calories would be from swimming at a moderate pace, whereas they’d burn 700 calories if they’re really kicking butt during their hour-long swim session. This same person would burn somewhere between 650-900 calories an hour if they weighed in at 205 pounds instead of 150. A swimming calculator can help you determine the approximate amount of calories you’re burning during your swim sessions.

Duration & Intensity

While freestyle or butterfly strokes may have a higher intensity than the breaststroke, if you can maintain the breaststroke for a longer period of time, you will burn the same amount of calories as if you did a quick workout with a freestyle stroke. It all depends on what kind of intensity you are looking to achieve, or how many calories you want to burn.

 

If you’re looking for an intense hour-long swim, the butterfly stroke can burn an impressive 650-1025 calories. Quick warning—this workout burns.

Water Temperature

Because swimming pools tend to be a cooler temperature than the surrounding environment, your body has to work harder and use more energy to regulate your body temperature. One theory argues that by placing your body in a cooler environment (below 68ºF) you are actually encouraging your body to store fat, and triggering a hunger response to eat more food because of it. While you don’t have to give in to temptation and eat like an Olympian, it helps explain why many of them eat the way they do during training seasons.

How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn Compared to Other Sports?

The short answer to the question, “does swimming burn more calories than running?” is that swimming actually burns around the same number of calories as running or cycling when done at the same intensity. The real difference is in the overall physical resistance of swimming. Because water provides around 12 times the resistance of air, swimmers are getting more of a full-body workout with overall resistance than cyclists or runners, who are mostly experiencing resistance in their legs.

Running

The amount of calories you can burn with any activity can increase or decrease depending on the intensity of the exercise. Runners who run at a high-intensity pace of 9 miles an hour can expect to burn between 650-1025 calories. Running is great exercise, but is not ideal for those who have joint pain or are overweight, because it puts additional stress on your joints.

Cycling

Depending on how much you weigh and how high your intensity is for your workout, you will burn around 590-930 calories during a cycling workout.

Swimming

If you’re wondering, ”how many calories does swimming burn?” it’s important to note that different strokes burn different amounts of calories because they vary in intensity. Here are two of the most popular strokes you might consider and how many calories you can burn with each:

 

  • Breaststroke—This stroke burns around 700 calories an hour at high intensity.
  • Backstroke—While breaststroke is more efficient at burning calories, you may prefer the backstroke. This stroke burns around 550 calories an hour at high intensity.

 

Swimmers can calculate their estimated caloric expenditure using a swimming calculator to get a better idea of how many calories they are burning during their workouts. Although calories burned while swimming is about the equivalent to any other form of exercise, it does have the added benefit of being extremely low-impact. This makes it a great option for people with back, knee, or joint pain who cannot safely or comfortably perform other types of exercise.

Getting Started

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise. If you’re looking to jump into swimming, there are a few tips to follow as you get started:

 

  • Start Slow—Beginners should start slowly and build up. 10-30 minutes 1-3 times per week is recommended for beginners. Slowly build up your time by adding 5 minutes to your workout every week.
  • Maintain Pace—When you start swimming, it can be tempting to try and go all out. Make sure that whatever pace you set is something you can maintain over the course of your workout period.
  • Stay Safe—It’s easy to push yourself too hard when you first start. Follow pool safety precautions, and pay attention to your body. You don’t want to injure yourself when you’re just starting out.
  • Rest—You probably won’t be used to swimming when you first start and may feel tired quickly. That’s okay. Make sure you take regular, frequent breaks when starting out. This can be as often as stopping at the end of every lap to make sure you’re good to go.
  • Don’t Rest—Yes, we just said to rest, but as you build up your endurance you should focus on taking fewer rests. Start by cutting your current rest time in half. Aim for a goal of no more than a 10-second rest in between intervals and laps.
  • Have Fun—Using kickboards and other pool toys to help you swim can actually help you work other muscles in your body. Plus, it makes your workout fun!
  • Swim in Sprints—Change up your workout by swimming one lap at a sprint and the next lap at a relaxed pace. It will make your workout more challenging and more interesting.
  • Take Swimming Lessons—Getting advice from a professional can really help when it comes to improving your technique. Consider swimming lessons for children to help them start becoming swimmers.  

Now that you know the answer to “how many calories does swimming burn?” and “does swimming burn more calories than running?” you’re prepared to start burning calories and getting a great low-impact workout through swimming. You’ll find that as you swim more, your calories burned while swimming will increase, as will your cardiovascular strength and lung capacity. Learn how to up your swimming game with advanced and private swimming lessons so you can improve your overall health and enjoy your workouts more.

25
Sep

Low Impact Swimming Exercises for Beginners

 

The water is a refreshing source of relaxation and good times, and it is also an excellent way to stay fit and healthy through swim workouts for beginners. The buoyancy of water, particularly salt water, makes it a marvelous alternative for people who have joint pain, back issues, or are overweight and need a safe way to shed some pounds. If you are new to swimming, or have been away from it for a while and are ready to return to the water, grab those fins and goggles and try these swimming exercises for beginners.

Warm-Ups

Any time you exercise, you should always prime the muscles with some light activity and stretching. When starting your beginner swimming workouts, start with a gentle freestyle swim, about 100-200 meters. (Most pools are 25 m long, so do 4 to 8 pool lengths.)

After your warm-up swim, grab a kickboard and do another 4 pool lengths holding onto the board. If you are doing your beginner swimming workout in a pool, you can also do kicks while holding onto the side.

beginners swimming exercises

Photo Credit: Taniche

Warm up your arms and shoulders, as well as improve your form, by using a pull buoy. This is a soft piece of foam that you can comfortably hold between your legs, requiring that your arms do all or most of the work.

If you are new to the water and a little apprehensive, the warm-up session of your swimming exercises for beginners is a great time to acclimatize and find your comfort level.

Work Out

There are a number of swim workouts for beginners, so you can choose the one that works best for you. Don’t dive into the deep end of swimming exercises, start out with a reasonable regimen, and then increase distance and length of time as you improve. Track your progress by counting your pool lengths along with the number of breaths you need between each 25 m swim.

Try out this 8-week plan of swimming exercises for beginners and hit the pool for a swimming workout at least 3 times per week:

  • Week 1 – freestyle swim for 100 m (4 x 25 m lengths), 20 breaths or less between lengths (but listen to your body, if you feel lightheaded or dizzy, make sure you rest until you are ready to swim again)
  • Week 2 – freestyle swim for 100 m (4 x 25 m lengths), 15 breaths or less between lengths
  • Week 3 – freestyle swim for 150 m (6 x 25 m lengths), 20 breaths or less between lengths
  • Week 4 – freestyle swim for 150 m (6 x 25 m), 15 breaths or less between lengths
  • Week 5 – freestyle swim for 200 m (8 x 25 m), 15 breaths or less between lengths
  • Week 6 – freestyle swim for 200 m (1 x 50 m), 20 breaths or less for rest; then 6 x 25 m lengths, 15 breaths or less between lengths
  • Week 7 – freestyle swim for 250 m (1 x 50 m), 20 breaths or less rest; then 8 x 25 m lengths, 15 breaths or less between lengths
  • Week 8 – freestyle swim for 250 m (1 x 50 m), 15 breaths or less rest; then 8 x 25 m lengths, 15 breaths or less between lengths

Cool Down

When you are through with your swimming workout, do a nice easy swim to cool down. A pleasant way to do this is to do some lengths using a gentle backstroke. Not only will this help you minimize sore muscles, but it can be a relaxing meditative time to do some deep breathing and clear your mind.

Swimming is fitness made fun, and you can use these tips to create your own beginner swimmer workouts, or let a SwimJim instructor craft your customized swim workout for beginners through one of our Adult Swim Programs.