There’s a lot of talk these days about muscle groups and concentrating on them one at a time.  You walk into any gym and you hear guys and gals make small talk while taking a break from their sets and repetitions.


          “How you doing with those biceps?”


“I pulled my hamstrings the other day.  Overdid it on the leg extension machine.”


“I need to work on my deltoids.  They’re not as defined as I want them to be.”


Gym lingo, they call it.  They’re into triceps, laterals and pullovers and to help build bigger muscles, they add in the protein shake to their sacred rituals.


But there are smart ones.  The smart ones learn to vary their routine, so you may not see them in the gym nine times a week. 


They’re in the pool swimming their laps.


As old fashioned an exercise it may seem to others, swimming is still one of the best fitness routines you can engage in.  You not only benefit from the cardiovascular workout – especially if you do those laps continuously to arrive at an ideal heart rate vis-à-vis your age, but you also get to work ALL muscles in one session.  No other exercise provides that advantage:  your arms, your legs, your core muscles – all glide in sync in the water.  Plus if you’re so inclined, you would also get the added benefit of the equivalent of an aqua workout.


Swimming offers the cardiovascular element that is necessary in any health and fitness program, but like the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic have recommended, 30-minute exercises for most days of the week should be done.  The specific recommendation in fact is to do aerobic or whole body activities four to seven days a week.


If you’ve decided that a swimming program is for you, you would worry less about injuries.  By swimming at a moderately vigorous pace frequently, you gain considerable stamina.


Given that a swimmer uses most muscles, there are distinct improvements in range of motion and flexibility.  A swimmer also builds muscle strength, develops endurance, muscle strength and power. 


You can’t mistake them in the crowd.  Individuals who swim regularly have that “I’m in the pink of health” look about them, have more zing in their gait, are able to manage pain more efficiently and feel less tired when performing daily activities. 


Swimming also helps to protect the joints and cartilage of more mature people, providing them with a better capacity to resist shock.


And don’t be too quick to relegate swimming to that class of exercises for a certain age group, because one look at an Olympic swimming feat and you’ll know that even the youth find the rigors of the sport quite a challenge.


Compared to a jogger, a swimmer has the capacity to burn as many calories in an hour – just as efficiently as a runner who covers six miles in 60 minutes.  The activity is a great upper body toner because specific strokes like the breast stroke, the free style, and the butterfly engage most of the muscles in the upper body.


One more wonderful thing about swimming is what it does to strengthen to a person’s lower body.  The legs get a terrific workout. Notice how much faster you are doing the laps with regular swimming – that’s because your legs feel more robust and your respiratory system has improved considerably.


Many people find swimming to be a relaxing sport.  By doing the strokes, you allow more oxygen into your muscles and breathe in a more regulated manner, hence allowing you to rid your body and psyche of stress. 


Note too that the human anatomy is made of up more than 60% water, which explains why the pool – or the ocean – is a perfect place for humans to get healthier.