Get in the Water!

If you’re overweight, or if you have joint or balance problems, foot pain from nerve damage, or other physical limitations — all of which are common among people who have diabetes — the swimming pool is a great place to get active. Since your weight is “reduced” by 90 percent in the water, swimming gives overweight people the buoyancy they need to keep their aerobic sessions going longer and move their bodies in ways they might not be able to do otherwise. Swimming is excellent aerobic exercise with an added benefit over walking: It exercises both the upper and lower body.


  • 1.

    Splash in class.

    A water aerobics class may be the best way to get a full-body workout in the pool — and you don’t even need to know how to swim. If there’s upbeat music playing and you’re with a nice group of people, you may even feel a little bit like you’re at a party. Want to get competitive? Your pool might have a recreational water volleyball team, so call and inquire.

  • 2.

    Get a leg up with a kickboard.

    Your buoyancy in the water is already protecting your joints from impact, but if you need even more lift, a kickboard will help. They’re also handy if you’re not confident of your swimming ability and want extra help in staying afloat. People who just want to exercise their legs can grab a kickboard by its sides and propel themselves through the water with leg power.

  • 3.

    Work up to a 30-minute swim.

    Swim one pool length (25 meters in a standard pool), and then rest for 30 seconds. If that didn’t challenge you, alternate swimming for 5 minutes and resting for 1 minute. Each time
    you visit the pool, add gradually to your swimming distance, resting as needed, until you reach 30 minutes of total swim time each session. To steadily improve your aerobic fitness, swim three times a week.   If your sight is impaired, ask about “lap time.” Many pools set aside times exclusively for lane swimming, during which swim lanes are roped off and recreational swimmers splashing around are prohibited. Having your own designated lane reduces the chances that you’ll collide with someone you couldn’t see coming.

  • 4.

    Protect wounds while in the water.

    Swimming when you have an open wound isn’t a good idea because it increases your risk of infection. Rather than skipping your aqua-workout when you have a cut or sore, ask your doctor whether a waterproof bandage or another skin barrier is appropriate for your situation. Be sure to clear the bandage with the pool’s lifeguard or manager before you jump in.

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