Monday, May 07, 2007

Article - Fitness -Different Strokes

“Different Strokes”

You don’t ‘take to water’? That’s too bad!

There had better be a good reason for that -- like allergies or health factors, as you are really missing out on something. There is no better way to exercise and relax at the same time. Water offers resistance as you swim and soothes you as well. It suits all body types – old, young, big, small, tall, short… Moreover, there are so many options in swimming – breaststroke, free style, backstroke, butterfly, etc.. Translated, it means low impact, “optimum” impacts and the more aggressive styles. It also offers the perfect solution for those who want to spare their joints some jarring, as swimming is a seamless sport.

Impressively, a little each of yoga, meditation, cardio-vascular, strength building and toning all go into this one single act – swimming. How? Here goes…

Yoga and meditation in swimming – Breathing-control is the essence of being able to swim. An elegant body posture and controlled, rhythmic movements are natural by-products. You reach a form of meditative state as you go up and down the length of a pool repeating the same actions in the water with your arms, shoulders and legs whilst taking controlled breaths.

Cardio-vascular -- The action of propelling yourself to each end of the pool, whether it is by means of the breaststroke, backstroke, freestyle stroke or the butterfly stroke, results in your heart rate pumping up as your limbs knead and tread the water. A completely new experience to panting and sweating it out!

Strength-building and toning – Have you ever “checked out” a swimmer’s physique? It is to die for. Sleek, muscular and strong. No need to lift free weights. Pushing through the water is enough.

Another great thing about swimming…learning to swim is a lifetime investment. You are not ever likely to forget it.

The Posture Point: When you swim, you do not need to mentally nag yourself to tuck your stomach in, squeeze your bottoms, or straighten your shoulders. Once you start swimming, your body and the water surrounding it automatically take care of your posture. There really is no other way to swim or stay afloat.

A sticky-sweaty workout is the norm on land but in the water, you are always refreshed even when tired! Swimming is a two-in-one experience. On the one hand, it offers a constant challenge to your effort and on the other; a balm that soothes your aching muscles. It causes you to lighten up -- both literally and your mood! I know for a scientific fact that I weigh ridiculously less in the water than on land. Weighing less anywhere is wonderful, right?!

After all this, what could still be keeping you from an aquatic workout? Frivolously enough, it is probably the attire! Once you have “decided to take the plunge”, there is no point in making self-conscious small talk: “I will lose some weight in order to look ‘presentable’ in a bathing suit and then start a swimming regime”. It beats me why someone believes he or she has to look like a supermodel in order to enjoy a good swim! Have you observed whales, dolphins and the like? They look big and elegant at the same time, right? Well, I daresay so might we!

Once you have got over all this mumbo-jumbo, you have to just dive right into it -- the swimming pool, I mean!

Sujata Tarakesan.

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