This article was originally posted on June 20, 2012.
While in New England we are held captive in chlorinated indoor pools most of the year, the summer abounds with opportunities to practice your strokes in a variety of venues. Fresh water lakes, man made ponds, sea salt infinity pools, and the briny buoyancy of the ocean all offer unique and different swimming experiences.
Swimming is great whether you have diabetes or not. It builds strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness all at the same time. If you are able to vary your stroke, including the crawl, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly, you can engage almost all the major muscle groups without noticeably perspiring heavily. Think about it—when you finish a swimming session you come out of the water sleek and refreshed, with the sheen of sweet smelling liquid droplets grazing your skin; a very nice alternative to the crowd dispersing musty aroma of runner’s sweat.
And for people with diabetes who have muscular-skeletal or neurological complications swimming takes all the problems associated with weight bearing exercises away.
It can also burn those calories. The more vigorously you swim the more calories you will burn obviously, but your body weight and sex also play a role. If you are male and heavier you will burn the most calories. On average you can burn 290-350 calories in a half hour of moderately paced swimming.
To estimate your calories burned multiply your body weight times the activity factor below:
|Body Weight x 1.5||Body Weight x 3||Body Weight x 5|
Another positive benefit of swimming is its versatility. It is one of those exercises you can do alone or in a group. Swimming laps freestyle in your friend’s pool or challenging others to ride the waves in the ocean can be a great way to spend time with others in a food free setting.
Swimming (or rather floating) is also a great way to relax and de-stress. Whether you favor a face forward dead man’s float or lazily gliding on your back, you can let your mind meander on the blissful sensation of letting go.
To be fair, swimming won’t help build your bones and you can’t do it without a body of water, but otherwise it’s a pretty good deal all around.
Swimming burns glucose and calories like any exercise. Check your blood glucose before and after your session and carry quick acting carbohydrate such as glucose tabs, jelly beans or sugar cubes in case of hypoglycemia.