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Sunday, June 20, 1999
By Anup Deb Nath
Swimming is perhaps the most popular way to cool off as well as exercise in the summer months. Unfortunately due to a lack of proper infrastructure, it is a sport that is seasonal and therefore overcrowded swimming pools are very common in the few months it is possible. Though a large number of pools open up and get operational by April and stay functional till September-October, these days are wholly dependent on weather conditions. Also the monsoon months mean limited swimming opportunities.
Despite all such limitations swimming is possibly one of the best ways to exercise. Not only is it excellent for all age groups, but has almost zero chances of injuries if you work out while in water.
If you are a beginner and want to learn swimming then there are some things to watch out for. If the learner is a child then a tube, arm-bands or a float are needed to initiate the child into water. It is best not to force the child to push the pace initially as it might instil a fear of water that would be difficult to overcome later. Let the child get used to the water and being in it for a couple of days before you try to remove the arm-bands or the tube. How long this takes variesfrom child to child and must be gauged by you.
Once the child is used to the water, the tube or arm-bands can be removed and a float used instead. With this the child can learn the correct leg movements as well as leam to stay relaxed and calm while in the water. For grown-ups thefloat is the beginning while learning how to swim.
When you select a pool, price is certainly a consideration but along with it try to ensure that there is a trained coach to help your child learn faster. For the sake of safety it is also advisable to have a trained person at hand when there are learners, particularly children in the water. The size of the pool, how crowded it is and how clean the water is also play an important part in keeping your association with swimming a happy one. Try to find a pool that is reasonably big for children and full size for adults or a minimum of 25 metres in length. For learning try to select a time when the pool is less crowded, as this not only gives you more time with the coach but is better security wise as well.
Swimming in an open-air pool while the hot sun is beating on you is also not a good idea. This could lead to tanning and sometimes even more severe health problems. If the pool has an overhead roof or protection which does not allow the sunlight to come directly on to the water then the time does not really matter.
Keeping your hair covered with a cap is recommended by most pools. This is partly for the sake of hygiene and partly practical as well. The high chlorine content in the water is bad for your hair. A cap provides it with some protection from harsh elements. Goggles are another good idea, particularly for those with sensitive eyes or those who have problems with chlorine.
For those who do not know how to swim and feel it is too late to learn, there is the fun option of aqua-aerobics. Exercising while in water is the in-thing in the West. For this it is not necessary to know how to swim. Here an instructor will take you through a rhythmic exercise routine set to music while you are in water.
This type of exercise is ideal for severely overweight people who cannot exercise otherwise, people with arthritis, knee problems, back problems, elderly people etc. The water cushions your body while you exercise and the possibility to jarring it is negligible, if not non-existent, while you are working out in water.
Swimming is a great way to get yourself the body you always wanted. Exercising while in water even if it is just about thigh high, will yield far better and more noticeable results than exercising outside water.
The water resisting the forward thrust of your body helps develop a wonderfully toned body and an enhanced blood circulation. This is one way to firm up your entire body. While swimming, the arms and legs more a lot and at the same time the abdomen firms up as well.
If you are in the mood to exercise while in water and sort out the little areas that need work, then you can follow some of the routines listed below. For firmer legs while in the pool, anchor yourself with your back against the side and your arms resting on the outer edge of the pool. Now pretend you are cycling and pedal your legs up and down making sure that they remain under water at all times.
Position yourself at the centre of the ladder and grip the ladder sides with your arms. Now lift both your legs together making sure that your entire back is touching the ladder and your toes are flexed. If it is difficult to do then you can start with the knees slightly bent and the toes stretched till you can switch to the tougher option.
To tone up your upper body stand with your body submerged till the shoulders in water. Keep your arms bent at the elbows by your sides. Now stretch them backwards opening them up. This will work on your back and your triceps muscles. Now pull the arms in front and cross them, working on your pectorals.
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