When it comes to getting in a great workout, running, biking, or lifting weights are usually at the top of most lists.

While these are all great options, swimming can also be a very impactful way to make your body more strong, flexible and fit.

Water workouts are great because everyone from newbies to veteran swimmers can see significant strength and cardiovascular benefits.

If you’ve ever wanted to take the plunge and integrate swimming into your exercise routine, there’s no time like the present.

Let’s take a look at the different benefits aquatic exercise offers, discuss some tips to create a swim routine, and a cover a few resources to help get you started.

Of all of the types of exercise available, I would argue that swimming has the most return on investment.

The one thing swimming has to offer that no other exercise can is the reduced impact on your joints.

Additionally, swimming offers both cardiovascular and strengthening opportunities. Lap swimming or water walking is a great way to elevate your heart rate and improve your cardiovascular endurance.

Further, the resistance of the water allows for strengthening both your arms and legs. One final benefit is the mental clarity and stress relief that is found on the other side of a great swimming workout.

When it comes to putting together a swim routine there are countless options. From lap swimming, aqua jogging, strengthening exercises, and intervals, there is something out there for everyone.

Aside from just using your body weight against the water, there are dumbbells, ankle weights, and resistance bands made just for the water, allowing for an increased challenge to your strengthening workouts.

Building a routine before you head to the pool helps hold you accountable to completing a full workout.

Also, make sure to include components you look forward to in order to keep yourself motivated.

We are fortunate in this area to have access to two wonderful community pools in Harbor Springs and Charlevoix. Additionally, there are several area hotels that allow access to their pool with the purchase of a pool pass.

If swimming is something that perks your interest but you don’t have the skills yet, adult swimming lessons are well worth the investment.

If lap swimming just isn’t your style, perhaps look for a group aquatic exercise class. These classes are a fun way to get in a good workout and maybe even learn a few new ways to exercise in the water.

If you have further questions about what type of aquatic exercises might be a good fit for you, talking with your local physical therapist would be a good place to start.

Andrea Ancel is a physical therapist at Northern Michigan Sports Medicine Center in Petoskey and Harbor Springs. She can be reached via e-mail at aancel@nmsportsmed.com. This information is not to be considered medical advice and is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical professional.