Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Healing (or Sometimes Soporific) Powers of Aqua Exercise

I have to say this for swimming (or aqua walking/jogging): It makes you feel like a new person while you are moving around in the water. Gone is all the pain in the lumbar region from the stenosis, and gone is the pain in the previously bone-on-bone knee (now metal-on-metal). You feel as though you have been magically restored to total mobility. The joints need no injections or glucosamine, or Joint Juice. The bionic knee no longer feels like it needs a squirt of the oil can, as the Tin Man required.

Obviously, swimming is good exercise. There is no need to cite all the statistics to back up that statement. Water offers resistance, but the exercise is very low impact.

Swimming is also relaxing, and maybe that's the start of its weakness as a form of vigorous recreation or competition for me. In short, I enjoy swimming most while I am almost sleeping in the process. I've never mastered the technique of really pushing myself with a fast freestyle; I feel as though I cannot get enough air, while maybe swallowing too much water. So I prefer my modified frog strokes (or whatever it is that I do), and I especially like doing my lazy back stroke while looking up at the puffy white clouds and the palm trees.

The most vigorous water exercise for me is jogging in the lap lanes. That does get a little boring, but many "Y" pools do accommodate water joggers.

As I continue my rehab from total knee replacement, I am once again putting aqua therapy into my senior fitness mix. It does indeed affirm your new feeling of wholeness, as though you are moving in healing waters. Right now, it feels strange to use my bionic knee in the kicking that goes with swimming. But it feels wonderful to walk under water.

The disadvantages (and maybe this is just me) are that water exercise seems to increase my appetite, which I already struggle to control. And sometimes it makes me sleepy earlier in the evening than this night owl wants to be. It also entails logistical and housekeeping challenges, with all the showering and wet towels and swimsuits. Just walking out the door, or getting up on an exercise bicycle, is simpler.

Nevertheless, as I vowed previously in my tasty Pancake Pundit blog, I will swim more as part of a balanced fitness routine. I will, I will, I will. But I won't swim fast. I won't, I won't, I won't.

© Robert G. Holland  2013

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