Workouts for Water Lovers - dummies

Workouts for Water Lovers

Finding a pool, lake, or ocean may not be as easy as finding a bike or place to walk, but swimming is still an option to consider when you’re on the road. You may find a place to swim at the local community center, YMCA, or YWCA, or your hotel may have a swimming pool. Swimming is a no-impact activity and a great way to work your heart, lungs, and almost every muscle in your body. Many physical therapists recommend swimming to their patients who have injuries and therefore find it difficult to walk or ride a bike.

If you don’t know how to swim or you want to learn new strokes, take some lessons. You may even want to check out a water aerobics class. Whatever form of exercise you choose in the pool, remember to warm up, stretch, and start your program at your own pace. Take breaks to check your heart rate and keep yourself within your target heart rate zone. You may even want to grab a mask, a snorkel, goggles, or floating devices to make you feel more comfortable if you aren’t used to being in the water. The best way to learn proper body form in the water is to take a lesson. Check out your local YMCA or gym to see if either offers any programs.

Table 1 offers you a water cardio endurance workout that you can walk or jog. Follow the stages and keep track of your progress in a journal or on your swimming program chart.

Table 1: Swimming Program



How Do You Feel?


In chest-deep water, walk across the width of the pool 4 times and see if you are close to your Target Heart Rate (THR). Gradually increase the duration of the walk until you can do two 10-minute walks at THR.


In chest-deep water, walk across and jog back. Repeat two times and see if you are close to THR. Gradually increase the duration of the jogging until you can do four 5-minute jogs at THR.


In chest-deep water, walk across and swim back (any stroke). Use kickboard or flotation device if needed. Repeat this cycle two times and see if you are at THR. Keep up this pattern of walk-swim to do about 20 to 30 minutes of activity.


In chest-deep water, jog across and swim back (any stroke); repeat and check THR. Gradually decrease the duration of the jog and increase the duration of the swim until you can complete four widths within the THR zone. Accomplish 20 to 30 minutes of activity per session.


Slowly swim 25 yards (22.9 m), rest 30 seconds, slowly swim another 25 yards, and check THR. On the basis of the heart rate response, change the speed of the swim and/or the length of the rest period to stay within the THR zone. Gradually increase the number of lengths you can swim (three, then four, and so on) before checking THR.


Increase the duration of continuous swimming until you can accomplish 20 to 30 minutes without a rest.

Reprinted by permission from Franks, B. and E. Howley, 1989, Fitness Leader’s Handbook, (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics), 271.