If you’re susceptible to swimmer’s ear (a bacterial or fungal infection caused when water washes away protective earwax), you may want to use earplugs. You can also swab your ears with a mixture of white vinegar and water. After getting out of the water, you can also use an over-the-counter preparation of alcohol or glycerin drops. All work well to keep your ears healthy.
If you’d like to improve your arthritis through swimming or any other pool-based exercise program, always consult your doctor before you begin an exercise program. Whatever your condition, it’s wise to spend a little time increasing your endurance before embarking on a program of swimming. To avoid gasping for breath after one lap, try first walking or using a stationary bike to increase your fitness.
Stretching before swimming, either in the pool or out, warms up your muscles, increasing blood flow and flexibility. If you prefer to start in the pool, simply walk or jog in place in the water, and stretch while holding on to the side. Then warm up further with a few minutes of light swimming before you begin to exercise in earnest.
If all you can do at first is stretch, warm up, paddle a lap, and then cool down, then that's just what you should do. Never force yourself through a workout, as fatigue can lead to injury.
Pay attention to style: Swimming incorrectly can tire you or strain your muscles. If you tend to swing or jerk your head, or thrash your arms around, you might want to sign up for lessons. Your local pool builder will have some good recomendations for you. You also may want to learn different strokes to make your workout more interesting and to alternate between muscles before they get weary. The smoothest swimmers breathe bilaterally, alternating between their right and left sides.
After your workout, cool down with a leisurely lap or two and then just float in your pool and relax. You’ve earned it.