Posted by: waterworksonwheels | February 5, 2010

Swimming for Exercise

It’s no secret that child obesity is a problem in the United States. About 15.5 percent of adolescents (ages 12 to 19) and 15.3 percent of children (ages 6 to 11) are obese. Physical activity is a major factor in losing weight, if accompanied with the proper diet. This sounds like common sense; however, take a look at the shopping cart of many a young mother. It often appears that pre-packaged, processed foods and quick (but unhealthy) snacks are the more popular items riding home in the grocery bags.

Seven out of ten parents in Arizona do not maintain a sensible diet for their children. Society has fallen short with its fast food chains, super-size dollar menus and physical education classes taking a back seat in many school curriculums. Cafeteria food usually leads something to be desired, as well.

Enough of the negative, let’s move to the positive. Swimming can be a fun activity for children of all ages. Water is playful. It just makes you feel good (even for grown ups)! It is human nature for us to stick with things that we enjoy – so get in the water, play and workout! Swimming uses all the muscles in the body. Your arms, legs and torso are constantly moving and your heart rate elevates to a perfect level for cardiovascular fitness.

Start slow, and build your endurance. The rhythmic breathing of a freestyle stroke can be very tiring when you first get started. This is something that you can include when setting goals for yourself. To start, try doing two to four laps two times a week. Add more laps each week as your technique and endurance level improve. Before you know it, your lungs, heart, legs and arms will be stronger and your stamina will increase ten-fold. When you go to do other workouts on land, you’ll be amazed at how much more “breath” you have! You have just improved your entire cardiovascular system!

Learning how to swim the correct way is important for efficiency. If your children are too young for lap swimming (under five, for example), learning to swim is still a great way to start exercising. Starting too late can lead to fears and anxieties for the child, and it is much more difficult to teach a child to swim when he or she doesn’t like being in the water. Joining a respectable swim program that teaches discipline mixed with fun and safety skills mixed with technique is a great way to introduce your child to this wonderful workout and pastime. Because, after all, swimming is fun (in addition to being an exercise and a necessary safety skill to have in Arizona)!

**Moms and Dads: Please don’t start your kids in floaties! Next article we will talk about why these flotation devices are NOT recommended by water safety instructors across the valley.

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