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  • Writer's pictureNina Dudko

Swimming is the New Running

When I walk around DC during my lunch break during the summer and I see tons of people running in 90+ degree heat, I can’t help but wonder two things. First, I wonder how they push through the heat, and second, why they subject themselves to the pain that is running. I guess part of it is envy that I can’t run myself. In 2014, I had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, but to also remove some arthritic cartilage I didn’t know existed. Apparently bad knees run in the here I am, a twenty-something with arthritis, which is pretty inconvenient.

For someone who loves food as much as I do, exercise keeps me in semi-decent shape from the pint of ice cream I might gorge down, but it also keeps me happy. I’ve been an active person for nearly my entire life. From karate, to cheerleading, I’ve been involved in some physical activity since I could walk and throw a punch, and an active lifestyle is part of who I am. So with my knee injury, how do I keep active, especially in the summer? Simple. I swim.

My parents joke that in a past life I was a dolphin or something. I find great comfort in the water, be it a lake, a pool, or the ocean. I guess it makes sense since I am an Aquarius (though I’ve been told that’s an air sign, please someone explain this to me). In the summer, I have the fortune of having a pool at my apartment complex,which is about 25 meters long and I do my best to integrate it into my workout routine. Thankfully DC is so ridiculously hot in the summer that the pool is warm by the time I’m home from work.

Swimming is one of the best cardio routines anyone can do, especially for someone like me with bad knees. One of my favorite benefits of swimming is that it is a full body workout and is super easy on the joints. It is the perfect toning-bodyweight workout with the resistance of the water. Before I start my workout, just like any other workout, I warm up. Warming up is extremely important since it reduces the risk of injury.​​

After a set of 50-100 jumping jacks, I start my swimming routine (for reference, I count one lap to be from one wall to the other side of the pool). My swimming workout (below) not only includes swimming laps, but abs as well. I integrate abs with a pool friendly crunch form. To do pool crunches: place your legs from the knee up on the pool deck, with your back flat in the water, and use your abdominal muscles to lift your back and torso out of the water and reach for your toes as far as you can. Also be sure to rest in between sets for recovery, about 30 seconds - one minute.

*Beauty tip for your hair: before you jump into the pool, soak your hair in regular water in the shower, it will absorb less chlorine than dry hair and prevent damage.*

Be sure you stretch after your swim and cool down. Although you may be tired after this workout, I guarantee you will feel great. Even though there are a few weeks of summer left, you can take this workout to any pool and adjust the distance based on the pool available to you. If you are interested in starting a swimming regiment, invest in a good pair of goggles. Chlorine is definitely not good for your eyes (I’ve tried to tough it out a few times). You can find a good pair of goggles from $10-$20, and Speedo is always a good quality goggle. When it comes to goggles, you don’t want to take the cheap route for risk in quality.

Now let’s make a splash together.

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