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In the Swim: Water Workouts
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Getting bored with your morning walk around the neighborhood? Consider adding swimming to your exercise regimen — it provides a good cardiovascular workout while also being gentle on your joints and muscles. Following the 2008 Olympic Games, many middle-aged women were inspired to try out swimming, and other forms of exercise, after 41-year-old Dara Torres became the oldest Olympic swimming medalist. For women with heart disease, swimming can offer many advantages, particularly
because the body is supported by the water, allowing swimmers to move at their own pace and gradually increase endurance without drastically increasing their heart rate.

If you are not an experienced swimmer, check out a local pool for water aerobic or basic swimming classes. Water aerobics can be a fun, low-impact workout, strengthening muscles throughout your body and even helping to strengthen your heart. Swimming can also be a great year-round exercise -- keeping you cool during the heat of summer and providing an indoor workout on cold winter days.

While swimming obviously doesn’t require much in the way of equipment, you may want to consider investing in a water-resistant heart rate monitor. This device, which looks like a wristwatch, allows you to keep tabs on your heart rate while in the water; because the heart rate can be 13% lower in the water than on land, you may find a heart rate monitor helpful in keeping accurate tabs on your heart.

Talk with your doctor about swimming to determine if it is right for you. Swimming will not offer the fastest way to lose weight: the water keeps the body temperature lower, which, in turn, keeps you from burning as many calories. A 2006 study also showed that sedentary women between the ages of 50 and 70 actually experienced a spike in blood pressure when they began swimming regularly. However, swimming can definitely offer a good alternative to walking, cycling, and other exercise, relieving the boredom of your daily routine and keeping you on the road to heart health.
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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) patient advocacy organization with thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, health care providers, advocates and consumers committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. WomenHeart supports, educates and advocates on behalf of the nearly 48 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease. Our programs are made possible by donations, grants and corporate partnerships.

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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a founding partner of The Heart Truth Red Dress campaign. The Heart Truth and Red Dress are trademarks of HHS.