Why Lap Swimming is one of the Best but most Challenging Exercises

When’s the last time you swamp multiple laps across an Olympic size pool? Unless you’re an avid swimmer, it’s probably been a very long time, if ever. But if you’re looking to get fit and tone up all over, it may be time to jump back in the water.

Lap swimming is one of the best forms of exercise you can possibly do. As you’ll quickly find out if you go for a swim for the first time in years, it works just about every muscle in the body – muscles you didn’t even know you had.

Lap Swimming Full Body ExerciseAs good as lap swimming is for your body, the most challenging thing you’ll encounter is motivating yourself to sustain the necessary willpower to head back to the pool for the first few weeks. When you’re not used to swimming, or even working out in general, keeping yourself moving in the water even for 10 minutes straight can be an arduous task, indeed.

I recently challenged myself to take up lap swimming as a new form of exercise, mostly because my usual workouts are getting monotonous and often miss a few core muscle groups that are hard to hit in a single session at the gym.

As I’ve mentioned several times in previous posts, when our muscles get used to doing the same thing day in, day out, it becomes harder to burn calories and increase muscle mass. Mixing things up is a great way to keep your fitness level on an upward slope.

To get started, I signed up a membership with the local YMCA. As you’re surely aware, the temperatures are rarely enjoyable enough for outdoor swimming in Canada. Even in warmer climates in the US, a grueling winter can keep you out of the pool for many months at a time. Therefore I highly recommend finding a gym with pool or your local “Y”. The links below will help you find the closest YMCA to you.

Find Your Y (Canada)

Find Your Y (USA)

Lap Swimming – You Can Do It!

Being quite fit already, I didn’t expect to have too much trouble on my first trip. Boy, was I wrong! My first lap went great. “I can do this!” I thought. The second and third laps weren’t too bad either. By the fourth lap, though, I was huffing and puffing like a lifetime smoker in a 10K marathon. Lap 5 was it for me. I didn’t think I’d ever reach the end of the 50-meter pool, and when I did, I had to stop.

It felt like I’d been swimming for at least half an hour, but turned out barely 10 minutes had passed. I was honestly ready to give up on day one. I told myself on the way home this just wasn’t the exercise for me.

But when I woke up the next morning, catering to sore muscles I’d never felt before, I knew I had to go back. That, and I’d already paid in advance for a full month’s access to the pool. I decided to make myself keep going at least 3 times a week until the month was out, and I’ve kept it up for nearly 8 weeks now.

I have to say, it’s gotten much easier. Yesterday when I dropped into the pool, I swam 5 laps with ease. I took a short break and hopped back in for another 5, then repeated the process again. All in all, I spent about 25 minutes in the pool, with 3 minute breaks in between. The Y also has an excellent gym, so I headed there for a 30 minute cardio workout after.

This is one fitness challenge I’m glad I didn’t give up on, and I hope many of you will find the motivation to give it a try. Whether your goal is to lose weight, tone muscle or mix up your usual workout routine, lap swimming is the perfect solution.

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