To many animals out there, nothing is more enjoyable than a quick stretch, a short warm-up, and then a jog along the Charles. These days, all is great for the first 40 seconds and then the goo in your nostrils begin to solidify. As you turn the corner onto North Harvard Street a blast of New England wind goes right through your fleece, tee, thermal underwear, and pores to begin chilling your bones to the temperature of frozen mixed vegetables. As you climb the slight incline to cross the bridge, you avoid some lolligaggers by running on the grass. Unfortunately there is a foot-and-a-half of snow so you are now soaked to the thigh. You’re back on the sidewalk – no problem – that is until you perform a Zach Gillen on that black ice and break your foot.
So what to do? You could just kick back and wait until spring. For the less lazy, I offer just one of many suggestions – hit the pool, Jack!
The only climate you’ll have to endure for swimming is that 30-yard walk across the street to the Blodgett Natatorium. In addition to protecting you from the elements, fitness swimming offers several advantages over other forms of cardio-vascular fitness.
Just to name a few:
o Fitness swimming does not place as much stress on the joints as high-impact activities that require running or walking. As a matter of fact, aquatic fitness is often used for physical therapy because of its ability to exercise muscle groups with steady resistance and limited impact on the skeletal system.
o Swimming, like running, can meet multiple fitness objectives by varying the distance and intensity of the workout. A continuous twenty-minute swim with an elevated heart rate is an outstanding aerobic workout, whereas a set of five or ten one lap sprints with adequate rest between can reap the benefits of anaerobic exercise.
o The freestyle, breast, and butterfly strokes will all force you to exercise under limited oxygen due to rhythmic breathing resulting in a more intense workout for your cardio-vascular system.
o Finally, swimming, when done properly works out several major muscle groups – the legs and arms for propulsion, and the back and stomach for stability. This full-body workout is difficult to replicate in other exercises.
If you are a beginning swimmer, Blodgett has information on lessons and classes that are available. Learning just a little technique will allow you to not only get more out of the workout, but also have more fun.
So, pick up some goggles, squeeze into that old Speedo, and go get wet.