Replacement home exercise for a swimmer
March 23, 2020 12:43 AM   Subscribe

I can't go swimming and I want suggestions for a replacement exercise routine!

This is, I'm afraid, another coronavirus question.

I was going swimming regularly (5 times a week, 30 minutes, 800 meters, breaststroke). I was also walking around 6 miles a day (12k steps).

The swimming pools have all closed for the foreseeable future and, in any case, I am now self isolating as I have mild symptoms that could be coronavirus. I am down to 2k steps a day, haven't left the house in a week, and am missing exercise.

I can't do weight bearing exercise very well - partly because I don't like it and partly because it is painful after any extended period (knees, hips, etc). I can't ride a bike due to balance issues.

I have a garden, reasonable inside space, and the ability to buy equipment. What would a good replacement exercise routine be for me.

If it matters I'm in then UK, a man in my fifties, and slightly overweight (a situation working from home and not exercising is not helping!)
posted by Gilgongo to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm going to suggest dance or martial arts routines. You will have to bear your own weight but the right shoes and the right floor will make a big difference.

Swimming is an exercise that really makes you stretch and expand and dancing and martial arts routines both do that too. When you're in the water you get to move and use muscles in a wide range of motion - you might do a somersault to turn around, which stretches torso muscles in ways and directions that you ordinarily wouldn't dream of out of the water where gravity and obstacles and not wanting to fall over tend to make us only use our legs and feet to turn around. Dancing or kata can get you to use many more muscles and use them in the different directions which recreates some of the advantages natural movements in the water.

I'm not talking something like ballroom dancing. A waltz is not going to get you to stretch your back and reach with your arms, and is mainly cardio and once you get your steps right you'd just be repeating the same motions and the same positions. The kind of dance I mean would involve movement such as leaning forward in a lunge with your arms extended, and then twisting so that your your stretch moves from the far left to the far right, first stretching core muscles on the left side of your body, then your back and then on the right.

Dance or kata like this can be done intensely to give you a good cardio workout although you'd want to start slower until you figured out what moves you were doing and how to do them. Balance issues of course could be a problem, but you can actually do these exercises the way pole dancers do, hanging on to something to stabilize yourself, leaning away from it and transferring how you hang onto it from hooking a leg around it to switching hands or arms. Of course you may not have any furniture or fixtures that are suitable, but even doing it in the kitchen and putting one hand on the kitchen counter the way ballet dancers hold the barre will provide a lot of stability.

Dancing and kata of this sort can also be done in a very small space - it's not necessary to prance around the room if there isn't wide cleared space. You can do this type of exercise while keeping your feet on a protective pad that is as little as a square meter.
posted by Jane the Brown at 1:33 AM on March 23, 2020

Best answer: If you can buy some form of elliptical, I think that would be the nicest and easiest option that's low impact but gives you some real cardio. There are really great super expensive ones that cost five digits, but there are acceptably decent, bare bones options in the low hundreds.
posted by vegartanipla at 1:49 AM on March 23, 2020

Best answer: Just to say that Youtube is a great resource to answer your question. Here are responses to me search for covid 19 exercises for swimmers.
posted by rongorongo at 2:31 AM on March 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I love (and also miss) swimming... For cardio that gets you closest to that zen feeling, I vouch for indoor rowing. It’s a bit gruelling in a good way, rhythmic, provides some resistance to the whole body, beautiful imo.

Whichever activity you choose, of course be mindful of any limitations. has apps that recommend activities and modifications to accommodate particular injuries (try the links at the bottom of ).
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:09 PM on March 23, 2020

I was going to say indoor rowing as well. Rowing works all the major muscle groups in a low impact way in a similar way to swimming so would be good cross-training for you. I have jokingly referred to it as "on-water swimming" to a coach who very much agreed.

Just make sure that you are practicing proper rowing form to minimize strain on your back and not increasing the resistance too much - people who do it on 10 at the gym are doing it wrong in almost all cases. You want to be at a 4 or 5.
posted by urbanlenny at 3:40 PM on March 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

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