When it comes to getting and staying fit, we have a lot of options, and every day it seems we have new ones to consider. It can be overwhelming to choose, especially when you're trying to start a workout routine.
Enter a recent Harvard Medical School report. "Starting to Exercise"—available in both print and ebook versions—highlights the best exercises for your body. According to a Business Insider report, the exercises "generate benefits that range from weight loss and muscle building to protecting your heart and brain and strengthening your bones." Here's what Harvard recommends, along with workout tips from experts who have spoken with Family Circle. We begin with swimming workouts:
"Many adults I work with talk about how the water is a magical place for them, where they can escape day-to-day stress," says Alexis Keto, head swim coach and aquatic director at Colorado Athletic Club at Inverness, in Englewood, CO. If that doesn't sound enticing enough to make bathing suit shopping worthwhile, we're not sure what is. But if you feel more like a mere mortal than a mermaid in the pool, here's the likely reason: It's your breathing. Having to think about this automatic behavior while also controlling your limbs and keeping afloat requires, well, practice. Before you dive in, take a few normal breaths. "Try to avoid a big gulp of air—just take a small sip and remember to exhale into the water when you're in the pool," advises Keto. Should you lose your rhythm once you get moving, pause and practice a little more while holding on to the edge of the pool. Not a fan of putting your face in the water? Stick to the backstroke.
Swiming Workout Plan: If you don't swim regularly, sign up for some lessons at the start of the season. Proper form can make strokes feel a lot easier and your workout more effective. You'll need fins, pull buoys and kickboards for this routine, but most pools have them.
0:00 to 3:00 Swim freestyle 4 lengths (100 yards total). This should feel like a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of 3 or 4 on a scale of 1 to 10.
3:00 to 9:00 Swim freestyle 8 lengths with a kickboard and fins (200 yards total). Rest 15 seconds between lengths, RPE 5 or 6.
9:00 to 12:00 Swim backstroke or breaststroke 8 lengths (200 yards). RPE 3 or 4.
12:00 to 20:00 Swim freestyle 12 lengths (300 yards). Rest 20 seconds between laps (2 lengths), RPE 5 or 6.
20:00 to 25:00 Swim freestyle 8 lengths using a pull buoy between your legs so that only your arms work (200 yards total). Pull as hard as possible. Rest 20 seconds between lengths, RPE 7 or 8.
25:00 to 30:00 Swim backstroke 2 lengths to cool down (50 yards), RPE 1 or 2.
Best for Swimmers: Lunges with Overhead Press
Strengthen every area with this move that challenges coordination—a must for swimming, says Arciero. Stand holding an 8- to 15-pound medicine ball or dumbbell in front of your chest. Step right foot forward to a lunge, reaching arms overhead. Return to start. Step right foot to a side lunge, lifting arms overhead. Return to start. Step right foot back to a reverse lunge, lifting arms overhead. Return to start. Repeat to left for 1 rep. Do 5–8 reps.