Swimming is a great way to tone up and trim down, because to swim you need to move your body against the resistance of the water.
Just swimming a few lengths can involve most of the major muscle groups, giving your body a great work out. If you crank up the pace, youll get a brilliant aerobic workout too. As the resistance in water is more than ten times that of air, youre also burning up more fat - American research suggests you use up 25 per cent more calories in water than you would if you were swimming through air.
Because you can swim at your own pace, slowly if you wish, you can keep swimming for much longer than if you were going for the burn on a bike, for example. Maintaining your staying power is a vital goal in fat-burning exercise.
The other big advantage of swimming is that water supports your weight and takes the stress off your joints, so you can put your body through a good workout without your knees, hips or spine paying the price. Research shows that exercising in waist-deep water reduces the pressure on joints by 50 per cent, while exercising in chest-deep water reduces it by as much as 75 per cent. However, although swimming is great if you have joint problems such as arthritis, it wont build up much protection against the brittle bone disease osteoporosis because its not a weight-bearing exercise.
Swimming is a wonderful exercise in pregnancy. The weight-supporting effect of water means its especially good in the late stages when youre struggling to get about. Start your child swimming at an early age; most people recommend lessons once they can walk, but you can get them in the pool as soon as theyre immunised and there are even some courses for this age group.
Although swimming is generally great for your health, there are a few health problems that can occur. Injuries can develop through overuse of the shoulder joint, causing inflammation and pain in the tendons and in the fibrous capsule surrounding the joint. However, this is mostly a problem for serious or competitive swimmers.
An infection of the external ear canal is a possibility if you are spending lots of time in the water. This can be a painful condition and should be treated at once by your doctor.
Verrucas are warts that appear on the sole of the foot and are usually caught from public changing rooms and swimming pools; it is not always necessary to see a doctor in the case of Verrucas, as there are some very good products to treat the condition available over the counter.
With weeks of hot weather still to come, a glistening swimming pool is a real temptation for keeping cool and a great way to keep fit.