The medal-winning performances of Olympic champions such as Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps are bound to create a heightened interest in swimming. While those athletes may make the sport seem easy, swimming requires hard work and dedication. It can be an effective form of exercise, though it isn't ideal for everyone. Before taking up a swimming program, consider the advantages and disadvantages involved. You should also consult your doctor prior to starting, especially if you are new to exercise or have a medical condition.
Easy on Your Joints
Although running is one of the most popular forms of cardiovascular activity, it isn't ideal when it comes to joint health. Rather than pounding into the pavement with each step, try swimming for your cardiovascular exercise. There is no impact with the ground and the water helps bear some of your weight, reducing stress on your joints and making it less likely to cause injury than running.
Low Risk of Overheating
The environment of the swimming pool can be more user-friendly than other athletic venues. Some forms of exercise, from running to playing football, can be dangerous when played in the summer due to the hot temperatures outside. High temperatures can be dangerous enough, but when you are running around and, in some cases, wearing a lot of equipment, you run the risk of overheating. Being immersed in water reduces the risk of overheating, a condition for which older adults are more at risk.
High Energy Demand
Swimming is a physically intense exercise that requires a considerable amount of energy expenditure. The exercise can be exhausting, particularly if you are just starting to swim. Additionally, if you are trying to maintain your weight or build muscle, it may be difficult to do so because swimming burns so many calories. Even swimming freestyle with a light effort burns 600 calories per hour, while swimming at a fast pace burns 943 calories per hour. Thus, if you don't eat enough, your performance may suffer and you may have trouble maintaining your weight.
Inconvenience and Inaccessibility
Because swimming requires you to have a bathing suit and access to a pool, it may not always be convenient or possible to adhere to your swimming routine. If you are trying to get in shape for a certain competition or lose weight by a specific deadline, this can be problematic. Additionally, even if you are traveling to a location where a pool would be available, it may not be deep enough and issues such as filter maintenance or dangerously high chlorine levels can render it unavailable or hazardous for use.
Brian Willett began writing in 2005. He has been published in the "Buffalo News," the "Daytona Times" and "Natural Muscle Magazine." Willett also writes for Bloginity.com and Bodybuilding.com. He is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of North Carolina.