When most people think about hitting the pool they think about soaking up the rays, playing in the water, or hanging out with friends. While it is great to get out and socialize and let the kids play, the pool can be utilized for exercise as well.

Swimming laps is an excellent cardio workout. The water keeps your body cool and keeps you from feeling sweaty while your heart gets an excellent workout.

It also helps keep those with joint pain exercising longer than they can out of water because the water reduces the impact on your joints and muscles. Not only is it great for your heart, it also burns a lot of calories and uses most all the muscles in your body.

Even the parts of your body that you aren’t actively moving to propel you through the water are being used to support you in the water. This makes it great for toning and weight loss.

The resistance of the water is about 12 times that of air and extra resistance can be added by using a kickboard, foam noodles, and other water exercise implements.

Swimming has been shown to improve the health of people with diabetes and heart disease and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that swimmers have about half the risk of death than inactive people.

Studies also link swimming to improved mood in both men and women. It is also commonly suggested for older adults because its low impact nature protects older joints and muscles. Swimming is great for your lungs as well; regular swimming has been shown to help you process oxygen more efficiently. Many also find the water calming and relaxing.

What if I don’t know how to swim? There are alternate types of exercise you can do in the pool where you can comfortably stand.

Water walking, water weights, and using the side of the pool to do various kicks are also great options.

Swim lessons are also available at most YMCA’s for all ages. Lesson’s at the Y here in McPherson offer lessons from 6 months old all the way up to adults of all ages.

Grab a suit and hit a pool near you for a great workout. Consult your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program to ensure that exercise is safe for you.

Tyler Glidden is the wellness director for the McPherson Family YMCA. He has a bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion and Wellness and a master’s degree in Exercise Science.