The Hardest Swimming Class You’ll Ever Take

I have joined an adult swim class

The Hardest Swimming Class You’ll Ever Take

I can’t swim and I am afraid of the sea. I once shut down a water flume at an Essex leisure centre because, halfway through my brave decision to go down it, I changed my mind and wedged myself into the bend to avoid crashing into that unpredictable splashy bit at the end. They had to send down a lifeguard.

It is not that I have a phobia of water, per se; I just never learned to swim as a child.

There were no holidays and there was, I suppose, an unspoken conservatism within my Pakistani community about wearing very little at a public beach.

And by the time I got to adulthood, I based my activity choices around what I could do (eat, mainly), rather than what I couldn’t. As a result, swimming-related holidays were avoided.

But now that I am in a relationship with a man who loves swimming, and water, this is not so easy. So, as part of my project to embrace the great outdoors, I have joined an adult swimming class.

The first thing to say about my class is that nearly all my fellow students are BAME and all the teachers are white, which confirms – unscientifically, but still – the theory that permeated my entire childhood that swimming is yet more “white people stuff”.

The second thing to say is that my teacher is doing her A-levels, which is fairly humiliating for a fully grown woman, but not as bad as trying to find adult armbands in a high-street sports shop.

That piece of drama goes this: confused shop assistant asks you to repeat yourself, before radioing to another equally confused shop assistant, who doesn’t realise that you can hear them calling you a weirdo. They dutifully check the adult swim section, before moving to the children’s department and insisting that the armbands “come up big”.

Before you know it, they blow them up and attempt to shove them up your arms forecefully, on top of your cardigan, while people stare and you complain that it is beginning to burn.

The denouement? They offer you a life jacket.

Still, adult swimming lessons are worth it. I recently graduated from the total beginners group and was bumped up to the almost exclusively white intermediate group. The elation!

I regarded this as a grand accomplishment, not just for me, but for my entire community. I wanted to hold my armbands in the air with a rallying cry of: “For my people!” A whole new world of family holidays, here I come.

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7 Quick Tips To Learn Swimming As An Adult

The Hardest Swimming Class You’ll Ever Take

It’s never too late to learn how to swim. If you never had the opportunity as a child, you can easily how to learn swimming as an adult. At first, being in the water may feel strange, unfamiliar, and even a little worrying. But with time you’ll become acclimated, gaining a level of confidence you may have previously thought unimaginable.

Once you learn how to swim, you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of benefits. For example, swimming is an excellent form of exercise. It’s also relaxing; it can relieve your stress and calm your nerves. And if you’re feeling blue, 15 minutes in the water may be all you need to lift your spirits.

Getting started is easy. Read on for seven simple tips on how to learn swimming as an adult.

#1 – Start In The Shallow End Of The Pool

It’s natural to harbor fear of the water if you’ve spent little time in it. One way to overcome that fear is to start in the shallow end of the pool. There, you’ll be able to stand in the water, lowering yourself according to your comfort level. Practice holding your breath while your head is under the surface, knowing you can come up for air whenever you wish.

#2 – Buy Goggles

You’ll find it’s much easier to see underwater if you wear goggles. Additionally, goggles make swimming more comfortable since they prevent water from getting into your eyes. Being able to see clearly while your head is beneath the surface will make learning to swim more enjoyable.

#3 – Spend Plenty Of Time In The Water

Gaining confidence and becoming a proficient swimmer requires that you spend sufficient time in the water. The more time you spend, the more comfortable you’ll feel and the better swimmer you’ll become.

We realize it can be difficult to set aside time to regularly climb into the pool. But it’s the only way to learn how to swim. Keep in mind, you don’t need to practice every day. Once a week might suffice. Allow more than a week to pass between sessions and you may find it difficult to make forward progress.

Our state-of-the-art, indoor swim facility is open year-round so you’ll never want for a place to practice.

#4 – Get Comfortable Having Your Face In The Water

One of the biggest challenges for adults who are learning how to swim is keeping their faces in the water. It may feel uncomfortable. It can even cause mild anxiety for some.

With the exception of backstroke, every stroke requires your face to be underwater a significant portion of the time. Getting used to the feeling is an important part of learning to swim.

Growing comfortable is a matter of practice. Here are a few ideas:

  • Do bobs in the shallow end
  • Practice holding your breath while keeping your eyes open (goggles will help)
  • Use your arms to move underwater while holding your breath.

The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel.

#5 – Learn The Individual Mechanics Of Freestyle

Experienced swimmers make freestyle look easy. But in fact, the stroke is made up of several forms that work in concert to ensure smooth, efficient movement through the water.

When you’re learning how to swim as an adult, don’t think of freestyle as a single stroke. Instead, think of it as a series of strokes, each of which need attention.

Focus on the positions of your wrists as your hands enter the water. Concentrate on the positions of your elbows and forearms as your hands sweep from overhead to your hips.

Pay attention to the roll of your body, your flutter kick, and how you exhale as your head turns downward in the water.

Freestyle is easy once you get the hang of it. But it’s important to master all of the individual movements that make up the stroke.

#6 – Consider Using Fins

When learning freestyle, it’s helpful if you’re moving through the water. Fins can be invaluable for that purpose, especially in the beginning. They’ll give you the forward movement you need to learn the individual mechanics of the stroke.

Are using fins cheating? Perhaps if you never take them off. But they’re a useful tool when you’re just starting to learn how to swim.

#7 – Enroll Into Swimming Lessons

If you’re interested in how to learn swimming as an adult, it’s recommended that you take lessons from someone with experience. That way, you’ll learn proper stroke technique from the beginning. You’ll also avoid developing bad habits that will hamper your progress.

The instructors at the DuPage Swimming Center have years of experience teaching both adults and children how to swim. Many of them swam competitively, honing their technique along the way. As part of our professional staff, they now train others, giving them the tools they need to enjoy swimming for the rest of their lives.


New to Swimming? This Is the Easiest Stroke for Beginners

The Hardest Swimming Class You’ll Ever Take

As anyone who's ever watched a swim competition knows, there's more than one way to move across a pool, lake or ocean — and each style of swimming demands something different in terms of technique and effort.

The freestyle is the most natural stroke, but it still comes with some challenges. Image Credit: Gary Yeowell/DigitalVision/GettyImages

Some strokes, the freestyle, come relatively naturally, even to children and beginners. Others, such as the butterfly, take years to perfect. Wonder which experts think are the simplest — and the toughest? Here's how swim coaches rate each stroke from easiest to hardest. Add them all to your next your swim workout to keep you on your fins.

“Swimmers tend to gravitate to freestyle as it's the fastest,” says Jenny McCuiston, co-founder of Goldfish Swim School. “And at the introductory level, it's the easiest to learn.”

Didn't master the stroke just yet? Start facedown, body stretched long and tall and move your arms in a continuous cycle (as one arm pulls from above your head to your hip underwater, the other sweeps forward above the water to extend over your head again). The quick, forceful flutter kick uses most of the big, powerful muscles in your legs; your quads, especially, will feel the burn of the effort, says Samantha Caballero, CEO of Swim With Sam in Miami.

The biggest challenge is learning to breathe while turning your head to the side, says Stacy Caprio, a certified Red Cross water safety instructor and coach who swam competitively for 14 years.

But once you master the relatively simple movements, freestyle uses the least amount of energy to cover a given distance.

That efficiency means you can move more quickly, making front crawl the favored stroke of speed — you'll spot many triathlon swimmers using it.

The sidestroke is a fairly simple stroke, but it still requires a lot of energy. Image Credit: abezikus/iStock/GettyImages

Though many people in the military — including the Navy Seals — practice this stroke, it isn't used in competitive swimming, Caprio says. But lifeguards might use it to rescue people from the deep end, as it's easier to drag someone along with you.

To perform this stroke, lie on one side, with your head, back and legs in a straight line. Your arms will move at the same time, but asymmetrically. Reach the arm deepest in the water (your leading arm) forward, then sweep down and backward in a semicircular motion, pushing water back with your palm.

The other arm, called your trailing arm, starts at your side, then bends and slides forward until your palms nearly meet, then pushes back to the starting position. Your legs, meanwhile, power you forward using a scissor kick.

Sidestroke requires little energy and is easy for most people to learn, especially because you don't need to submerge your head. But it's far less efficient than freestyle, says Mike Lucero, head swim coach and president at Golden Road Aquatics in Burbank, California. For that reason, he ranks it as slightly more difficult.

The backstroke isn't as relaxing of a swim stroke as it might seem. Image Credit: microgen/iStock/GettyImages

In some ways, backstroke represents the opposite of freestyle, Caballero says. You'll make similar windmill- reaching and pulling motions with your arms, while your legs perform the same powerful flutter kick.

But because you're doing it all upside down, lying on your back instead of your stomach, the stroke requires added coordination. Reaching back, instead of forward, can fatigue your shoulders and triceps, Caballero says. Kicking on your back requires an added focus on form, including pointing your feet and relaxing your ankles.

Because your face stays above the water, breathing is easier, though many swimmers still time their inhalations and exhalations to their strokes. Beginners often find it challenging to keep their heads in the water and arch their neck upward, Lucero says. Instead, relax your neck and stare skyward as you cycle your arms.

You can do the breaststroke with your head in or the water. Image Credit: Westend61/Westend61/GettyImages

Breaststroke poses a more significant technical challenge than many of the other strokes, with more pressing and squeezing, McCuiston says. Getting it right is all about timing, Lucero notes: “It's pull, breathe, kick, swim — and you've got to work on the glide.”

Your arms move similarly to treading water. You'll start with palms together, pushing your arms forward. Then comes the pull, where you turn your palms out and bring your arms back in a semi-circular motion before extending them back in front of you again. All this should represent one fluid motion. And as your arms start to come together, you'll lift your head for a breath.

Meanwhile, your legs do a whip kick. Start with your legs extended behind you, then bend your knees and bring your feet toward your butt. Then, kick out and back forcefully, moving your knees away from each other to the sides and rotating your feet out, a movement often compared to that of a frog.

It's possible to do this stroke while keeping your head above water: Breathing comes easier, you can see where you're headed and you might not need to use goggles. But more competitive swimmers increase their efficiency by dipping their head in to exhale with each stroke.

The butterfly is a difficult stroke that has a lot of benefits. Image Credit: Fran Polito/Moment/GettyImages

The combination of strength and coordination required to pull off the butterfly make it the most difficult stroke. Some people, including many triathletes, never learn it, Lucero says. Other swimmers spend a lifetime trying to master it.

Done correctly, your arms move symmetrically, your body whips a wave and your legs move together in a dolphin kick.

Timing is critical: There are two dolphin kicks for each strong pull of the arms, and they must occur at just the right time to maintain forward momentum.

Meanwhile, you'll engage your abs with every stroke and summon significant strength from your shoulders to lift both arms the water simultaneously.

If that sounds exhausting, it is. The butterfly requires significant physical and mental effort. “It takes a lot you to swim more than one lap,” says Caballero. But there's a reason to try: “The accomplishment you feel after is incomparable.”


Why You Should Embrace the Big Pool

The Hardest Swimming Class You’ll Ever Take

Does long course swimming make a difference? Here is why you should make more of an effort to spend some quality time with your local long course pool.

I remember the first time I swam long course very vividly. Junior Olympics, somewhere inland New Jersey, a bright summer day in 1988.

The event? 100m backstroke, and the second lap of that race was probably the longest three-quarters-of-a-minute of my life.

With no roof above me to guide my swimming, I bounced from lane rope to lane rope, rolling over on my side numerous times to look for the wall, unbelieving that I still hadn’t even seen the backstroke flags.

Where were they?

By the time I touched the wall I felt I’d swum a marathon.

“Welcome to the big boy pool,” a coach told me as I dragged myself the pool.

At the highest level our sport’s athletes swim at in the long course pool, and yet, when you mention to most age group athletes that practice will be in the 50m pool you tend to get groans.

Yes, it’s harder. Yes, it requires more stamina. But yes, it will make you a better swimmer.

For those swim teams and swimmers that are lucky enough to have access to a long course pool, here is why.

The Benefits of Long Course Swimming


The biggie: long course swimming is straight-up tougher. You don’t need me to tell you that.

For swimmers going from short course yards to long course meters the difference is even more profound. Without the walls to save you every dozenish or so strokes it forces you to maintain the rhythm, stroke length and stroke rate over more than double the distance.

When swimmers performed a descending set of 5×200’s in both a short course and a long course pool, blood lactate levels were significantly higher among the long course group, and during the sub-max efforts heart rate was higher as in the long course pool as well. (Heart rates after the final max efforts were identical between short and long course.)

If there was ever an advantage for swimming long course it is this: you’ll become more accustomed to training with higher blood lactate levels, and getting a harder workout in swimming at the same intensity as you would be swimming short course, making it ideal for aerobic work.

Trains you for the big races.

If you have aspirations of competing at the elite level of the sport at some point you will be racing in the long pool.

This is unavoidable. Although training long course certainly isn’t a prerequisite of fast swimming—an example including backstroke great Aaron Piersol is detailed below—training long course can give you the confidence to swim fast.

Here’s another way to think about long course swimming, the 50m pool is also the same one that the Olympics are competed at. If you want to swim against the Franklins, the Lochtes, and the Campbells, eventually you are going to have to step into the same pool they race in.

Exposes the weaknesses in your technique.

Short course swimming can help paper over technique flaws. When you have strong walls and underwaters you can hide the soft spots in your swimming with long underwaters.

Consider that short course races can be performed up to 60% using underwater dolphin kicks, and you realize that the importance of swimming technique is diminished in the small pool compared to the long pool where only up to 30% of the race can be swum underwater.

Butterfly races in particular get a whole lot tougher when the amount of arm-saving turns gets cut in half.

Gives you more time to really work on stroke corrections.

Long course swimming gives you longer opportunities to hold on to desired stroke corrections.

I have always found that when trying to make stroke adjustments it requires a few stroke cycles to get into the rhythm of it. Whether it is doing regular old swimming or dropping some freestyle drills having the added length of the pool means that you latch onto the adjustment, and have a chance to drill it down a few times before you have to launch yourself into a flip-turn.

A shortcoming of short course swimming is that seemingly a couple moments after you hit the rhythm and technique you want it is time to turn, forcing you to start over after another push off and streamline.

It’s a new challenge.

For most swim programs the long course training and racing season comes after six months of short course swimming. Switching to the big pool is an easy way to switch things up.

Racing long course is different, and requires different strategy.

Gives ya a piece of humble pie with your times.

Simply put, long course is slower.

For swimmers new to the sport there is a moment of surprise when they come to understand that a :22 second short course swim doesn’t instantly transfer over to a :22 second-long course result.

In a long course pool there is quite literally more swimming to be done.

More pool space.

And now, probably my favorite aspect of long course training.


10 swimmers in a short course lane is a bubbling cauldron of arms and legs; the same ten swimmers in a long course lane suddenly feels you have all the space in the world.

In most programs long course training is often available only during early morning workouts due to pool space limitations later in the day, so if there was ever a reason to get your butt bed for morning workout it’s that you will get in better shape, improve your technique, and be able to spread your (water) wings.

How to Train Long Course in a Short Course Pool

Okay, so what if we don’t have access to an Olympic-sized swimming pool?

First off, the good news is that not having access to a long course pool isn’t a game breaker.

There are benefits to short course swimming; the shorter bouts of swimming means you hold onto that technique a little bit longer, you get twice the work on turns/breakouts, and a short course pool works better for training sprinters.

Secondly, not only can you swim well without a long course pool, but you can excel, even at the highest levels.

Aaron Peirsol, an American who held the world record in both the 100 and 200m backstroke, and is a 7-time Olympic medalist, broke his first world record in 2002 after training the previous 8 months without having even looked at a long course pool.

So it’s not a deal-breaker.

Here are a couple ways to make the pool a little longer:

  • Add some resistance. There are lots of ways to lengthen the pool. Swim with a parachute. Tether yourself to a cord. Throw some DragSox onto your feet. From personal experience I can tell you that the first time you put them on and try and kick the length of the pool the resistance will double the amount of time it takes to get there. A :20 second 25m kick turns into a :45-50 second effort. Bingo.
  • Turn at the “T’s.” A low-tech way to add the endurance benefits of training long course is to simply remove turns from the equation. This means that doing a flip-turn a meter or two from the wall, kicking from a dead stop, and continuing on with your swimming. Training this way robs you of the push-offs and breakouts you’d typically lean on to recover.

Lots of great swimmers have come up training in facilities that are, well, dismal, so don’t feel having long course swimming consistently at your disposal is a game-breaker.

Whether your pool is long course, short course or just a bucket in the ground, remember it’s the swimmer that makes the pool, not the other way around.


Swimming: Learn the Benefits of This Exercise

The Hardest Swimming Class You’ll Ever Take

You'll need a swimsuit unless you plan on skinny-dipping! many other things, technology has entered the swimsuit arena as well. Fabrics are designed for minimal resistance through the water, they tend to last a long time, and they resist fading even when used repeatedly in chlorinated pools.

Of course, not all of us would be comfortable in the skimpy racing suits that you see Olympians wear, but the good news is that you can find more modest suits at sporting goods and department stores as well as through a number of online vendors (see the resources section). Comfort is the most important quality in selecting a swimsuit.

You're less ly to swim if you're uncomfortable in your suit.


Goggles protect your eyes from chlorine (and anything else that may be in the water), and they help you keep your eyes open while you swim so that you can see where you're going. You can even get prescription swim goggles if you wear glasses (check with your optician for availability). To find the right pair of goggles, do the following:

  • Put the goggles over your eyes without slinging the strap over your head.
  • Press the goggles into your eye sockets and let go.
  • The goggles should stay in place.
  • Experiment until you find the pair that fits your eyes best.

Bathing caps

Bathing caps can serve several purposes. Some pool managers will require individuals with long hair to wear caps to keep hair from getting into the pool, and some people just to protect their hair from the chlorine in the water.

You may also decide to wear a bathing cap to cut down on resistance in the water. This really works, and so if you're looking to increase your time a bit, a bathing cap might help. Many caps are made of latex, although you can find silicone, neoprene (keeps you warm), and Lycra as well.

Choose the one that fits your head and is most comfortable.

Flotation devices and other equipment

There are a number of flotation devices and other equipment available to help you learn how to swim, improve your swimming times if you start to get competitive, and add resistance to your water workouts to build muscular strength and tone.

Flotation devices help keep you afloat so that you can slow down and work on your swim stroke without sinking or causing too much fatigue, and they help with confidence for individuals who don't know how to swim.

Read on to learn more about floatation devices.


Kickboards are devices made of foam or other materials that float, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The main purpose is for you to hold on and stay afloat while your legs do all the work. It's good exercise for coordinating your kicking, and it gives your arms a rest.

One technique that I suggest to swimmers who want to keep swimming continuously without a break is to leave a kickboard at the end of the pool, and when they get tired, grab the kickboard and do a lap or two with it until they get their arm strength back, and then drop the kickboard off at the end of the pool and swim again until they need the kickboard again. Many pools have kickboards available to try out.

Pull buoys

kickboards, pull buoys are flotation devices that come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but un a kickboard, which gives the upper body a rest, pull buoys are placed between the legs to keep the legs afloat without kicking so that you can work your upper body. Pull buoys are excellent training devices for building upper-body strength, endurance, and cardiorespiratory fitness. They can also help you work on your form because you can swim slowly and deliberately without sinking.


Fins fit on your feet and add propulsion to your kicks (think of a duck's webfoot). They are great training for your legs and will help you swim faster.

They come in long fins for beginners who want to work on their stroke and build up leg strength and ankle flexibility and short fins to help you go faster without overworking your legs.

Fins should fit snugly but not so tight that they cut into your foot or cut off circulation. Wear socks with your fins if that feels more comfortable.

Hand paddles

Hand paddles attach to your hands and add propulsion to your arm stroke because they move more water.

They can be a lot of work for the arms and shoulders because of the resistance in the water, and for this reason, they are used in water aerobic classes to mimic the resistance exercises that you do on land with dumbbells (for example, biceps curls).

Hand paddles make a water workout difficult, and so you should warm up in the water without them first, and then build up slowly you would with any resistance exercise workout so that you don't overwork your arms and shoulder joints.


Gloves, hand paddles, also add resistance for your arms, although they are smaller than paddles and so the resistance is lighter. These might be a better choice than paddles if you're just starting out with resistance exercises in the water.

Water dumbbells

Some manufacturers produce dumbbells made of foam for use in the water. They add resistance paddles or gloves, but you can release them quickly after a set and then grab them again when you're ready. Water creates lots of resistance, and so water dumbbells will make you stronger if you use them consistently. They're fun!


A noodle is a flexible, tube-shaped flotation device that you can wrap under your arms or around your waist to keep you buoyant so that you can keep moving in the water (kids love to play with them). The advantage of being able to keep moving is that you can work on your stroke without fatigue and increase your strength and endurance.

Aqua jogger

Aqua jogger is a flotation device that you wear a belt.

a noodle, it permits you to keep on moving without fatigue, so that you can work on your stroke as well as your strength and aerobic fitness, but it's more heavy-duty than a noodle and will accommodate heavier people and create more resistance. Aqua joggers also allow you to participate in water aerobic classes and water running without having to know how to swim or break frequently.

Water treadmill

Did you read that right? Yep, water treadmill. There are two types.

One is a device that you install in your pool that works with a propeller to create a current of water that you swim in place against (okay, it's not really a treadmill, but you do swim in place).

This type is a great training aid and is also used for rehabilitation, but it is very expensive, depending on the model and whether you have it installed when your pool is being built or in an existing pool.

The other type is a treadmill that is designed for use in water. You walk on it just any land-based treadmill, only there is less strain on your joints because of the water. This type of treadmill is frequently used in rehabilitation. See the resources section or search online for “water treadmill” to learn more.

There is one other option for swimming in place, and it's inexpensive. Swim stretch cords attach to the side of a pool and to your body so you can swim without going anywhere, or they come with a drag belt (sort of a mini-parachute) that catches water as you swim and drag it behind you. Both are fine options for getting a great workout.

Why Walking is the Best Medicine 10 Benefits of Walking FAQs NEXT: Take the Exercise and Fitness Quiz!

Walking can help you maintain your body weight and reduce your risk for obesity. The health benefits of walking don't stop there. An easy 30-minute daily walk has been shown to:

  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Help improve blood pressure
  • Manage blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Boost your sense of well-being
  • Reduce the risk of developing certain cancers (such as breast and colon cancers)

True False

To reap the health benefits of walking, aim for a total 30-minute brisk walk, 5 days a week.

Most adults need about 2-1/2 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity that increases the heart rate and breathing.

If you can't walk 30 minutes in one session, break it up into three 10-minute walks.

For greater weight control and increased health benefits, you may need to walk more than 30 minutes per day.

30 minutes a day, 5 days a week 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week 10 minutes a day, 3 days a week

10,000 steps per day is the equivalent of about 5 miles walked, which meets the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

The idea of 10,000 steps daily came from the sale of 10,000 step pedometers in Japan in the 1960s. Since then, numerous studies have shown it to be a reliable goal for general health.

Taking fewer than 5,000 steps per day can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.

2 miles 5 miles 7 miles 11 miles

In the sense that both walking and running can result in health benefits such as weight maintenance and reduced cardiovascular disease risk, walking can match running. However, walking is less intensive than running and you have to walk more than twice the time to equal the benefits of running.

The American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine standards suggest 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise such as brink walking, 5 days per week (total 150 minutes/week) or intense aerobic exercise such as running for 20 minutes, 3 days per week (total 60 minutes/week).

Running is more time-efficient but it has a greater risk of injury, so walking is a solid alternative option.

True False

Walking is a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, and all aerobic exercises, walking can reduce certain cardiac disease risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity diabetes, and vascular stiffness and inflammation. Walking also can also protect against mental stress, depression, dementia, peripheral artery disease, colon cancer, and erectile dysfunction.

True False

Walking can help to strengthen muscles in the legs, hips, and glutes. Walking can also help keep the abdominals toned as they support your torso, your back strong as it maintains your posture, and your shoulders and arms toned as you move them while you walk.

Because walking does not work the muscles to fatigue, you will not build much muscle while walking.

True False

Fewer than half of all Americans get the minimum recommended 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate exercise. Walking is one of the easiest ways to meet the minimum and maintain good health. Waking is an inexpensive activity that can be done almost any time and anywhere.

About 80% Around 70% Nearly 60% Less than 50%

The lack of physical activity in the U.S. has contributed to a growing epidemic of obesity. More than 1/3 of Americans are obese. The propensity for inactivity can start early. In 1974, 2/3 of American children walked or biked to school; today only about 13% of kids do so. As adults, we have longer work commutes – up to an average of 100 hours annually sitting in a car, bus, or train.

The American commute is worse than ever. More than one-third of Americans are obese. Only about 13% of kids walk or bike to school. All of the above

In addition to helping strengthen muscles, walking can support your joints and help you maintain range of motion. Joint cartilage can be relatively avascular, that is, little to no direct blood supply. The joints stay healthy when movement squeezes the cartilage and helps circulate joint fluid (synovial fluid) which can carry nutrients and oxygen to the joints.

True False

Just 10 minutes of walking, three times per day can help control high blood pressure. Other lifestyle modifications that can help maintain healthy blood pressure include a healthy diet low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol, and high in fruits and vegetables; and not smoking.

True False


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American Heart Association. Why Walking?

NIDDK. Walking: A Step in the Right Direction.

Veterans Administration. MOVE! Weight Loss Program for Veterans. A Guide to Using Your Pedometer.

UC Davis Integrative Medicine. What About 10,000 Steps a Day.

Harvard Health Publishing. Walking: Your Steps to Health.

Harvard Health Publishing. Exercise Is an All-natural Treatment to Fight Depression.

Arthritis Foundation. 12 Benefits of Walking.

Harvard Health Publishing. Walking: Your Steps to Health.

America Walks. Benefits of Walking.

U.S. Census. Commute Times… On the Rise.

NCHS Data Brief. Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth. U.S. 2011-2014.

CDC. High Blood Pressure. Controlling Blood Pressure.

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Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the MedicineNet Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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How to Be the Hardest Working Swimmer in the Pool

The Hardest Swimming Class You’ll Ever Take

by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. Join his weekly motivational newsletter for swimmers by clicking here.

Everybody wants to be great. Everybody wants the medals, the records and the glory.

They just don’t want to have to work for it.

It’s easier to settle for the thought that there is a shortcut somewhere, a sneaky way that gets us results with less effort.

But there isn’t.

Hard work is unavoidable, no matter how much our culture of insta-results s to claim otherwise, or how talented your coach and parents tell you that you are, or how pre-destined you consider yourself for greatness.

The benefits of being a devastatingly hard worker go beyond just faster swimming:

  • You rule the process. Being the swimmer that puts in the work means you are consistent in effort and attendance, and in turn this creates athletes how understand the value in the process versus being fixated on results.
  • Gives you swagger. There is a rock-solid type of confidence that comes from putting in the work that is impossible to fake.
  • Creates mentally tougher swimmers. A swimmer who is unafraid of hard work is unafraid of challenging circumstances, which, if swimming fast at the big meet is important to you, comes in handy when you step up on the blocks during pressure-packed situations.
  • Gives you the power over today’s performance. Swimmers who work their tail off understand the urgency in making the most of today’s opportunities, which means they refuse to wait for what might appear more favorable circumstances to take action.
  • Makes you a generally faster swimmer. And of course, at its most basic level, hard work promotes faster swimming.

How to be the Hardest (& Smartest) Working Athlete in the Pool

“I’m sold!” you might be thinking. “Let us be working hard!”

But before plunging into the water and belting out 4,000m at the highest intensity you can muster here are a few things you should consider in order to make the most of your new-found desire to have a legendary work ethic:

1. Start with an audit of your training & effort.

I’ve rarely met a person or swimmer who said that they were not a hard worker. We all tend to think that of ourselves, but is this the actual case?

After all, self-awareness is a tough skill to crack. We tend to look back on yesterday, the weeks and months prior and exaggerate how things went. We inflate the work we did, downplay the practices we didn’t, and end up with a tainted view of our training history that leads to unrealistic expectations.

Spend a couple weeks journaling your swimming workouts and seeing how you are actually doing in the pool.

Two crucial things will happen: you will realize quickly how much (or how little) effort you are actually giving, and it will give you a baseline to improve on moving forward.

2. Set standards for yourself.

What does having an awesome work ethic mean to you? It’s not enough to just say that you want to be a hard worker, you need to come up with ways to quantify this.

Here are a couple ideas to get you thinking:

  • Give a 9 10 effort at every practice.
  • Do the entire workout as described by coach.
  • Attend 95% of practices this month.

Set some standards so that you can say, “Yessir, I’m doing the things necessary to make me feel I am the hardest working swimmer on the block.”

3. Effort is only as good as the engagement and focus that goes with it.

The most shredded guy on my team during high school was also one of our worst swimmers.

It certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying; a wind-up toy he’d amp himself up, drop into the pool, and it would be a flurry of white water, red cheeks and loud panting for two hours.

The effort was there, but it made for some ugly (and not terribly fast) swimming.

(It certainly made for a great workout, however.)

Hard work goes beyond how simply hard you are trying.

It also involves being focused and trying to swim with superior technique and efficiency. When you put together a high degree of effort and a focus on technique you create a combination that is incredibly hard to beat.

More quality, less garbage.

4. Beat your best.

Every day.

Being a “hard worker” in itself isn’t a great goal, as it lacks any kind of actionable specificity. After all, I can “work hard” at sitting on my butt crushing a pizza watching Netflix.

Rather, working hard should be about becoming a better swimmer than you were yesterday. It’s not just high effort for the sake of effort, but of going your way to get better each day. About mastering yourself and your performance.

Hard work combined with progression is where the magic happens.

You don’t always need to be outworking the swimmer next to you, but you should always be seeking to outwork yourself.

5. Stop avoiding the thing you know you need to be doing.

In all lihood there is that one thing in your training that know you should be working on. Worse, you know the improvements that will come with it, and yet, you keep putting it off, pushing it into next week, into “someday” territory.

Whatever it is, attack it. For once and for all.

You know that once you do will kick yourself a little bit for having procrastinated so long, and you’ll ly also experience a “that wasn’t so bad” once you apply yourself for a little while.

Remember that you don’t always have to it.

You can still love the sport and also do things that are tough or unpleasant.

There will always be things you don’t want to do in the pool (for me, it was breathing pattern sets—couldn’t stand them), but just know that pushing through the suck and avoiding the temptation to always take the easy route will get you to legendary status.

6. Start with today.

Okay, so now that you’ve audited your training history and set some hilariously ambitious standards for yourself, you might be feeling curiously a boss.

Until, of course, you start thinking about the enormity of what you have set out for yourself.

“10 10 effort for every practice until the end of the time?”

Forget that.

Drop the long-view approach and start with today. Start with the next lap. The very next stroke if you must.

You become a hard worker in the pool one lap at a time. So for a moment forget about the glory and mountain of work ahead of you and concentrate solely on the next few strokes.

Make the decision to kick a high degree of butt in the pool each day, go to work, and leave the competition and your PB’s in the rear-view.

About YourSwimBook

YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more.

Learn 8 more reasons why this tool kicks butt.

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