Air swimming is a group of exercises that were originally created as warm-up exercises prior to any exercise program, but also to provide gentle range of motion in the joints and spiral/diagonal muscle movement for people with chronic pain and non-ambulatory individuals.
They can be done standing, sitting, lying in bed or on the floor. They are completely adaptable for almost any physical condition and provide a beneficial effect by increasing blood flow and oxygen to all the tissues of the body including the brain.
They made be done energetically to music or may be done slowly and fluidly as a moving stretch.
They are presented here as part of the Breathworks For Your Brain program.
Because they cross the mid-line of the body, they stimulate activity in both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously; increasing signals across the corpus callosum, the white matter comprised of connective sensory and motor axons. This increased activity leads to whole brain thinking, improved focus, concentration and memory.
These exercises may be done as a complete group and then repeated numerous times, committing five minutes or more to the segment.
When done this way the therapeutic effect is “whole-body”.
They are greatly effective as a mini-stretch and brain boost several times during the work day, particularly after hours of driving, desk work or studying.
They also are a great “starter” for the beginning of each day.
Standing or sitting with your legs apart in a balanced position and arms by your sides, pull your tummy in & up and begin a forward swim move. Keep your knees slightly bent. Bending slightly forward from the hips (do not round your back), keep your head and back in line and stroke diagonally across your body in a half-circle. Keep your elbows slightly bent and bring your hand and arm all the way back to your starting position with each stroke. Keep your breathing deep and rhythmic as you swim. Inhaling on the up stroke, exhaling as you come down. Make your stroke big, scooping the air as through you were drawing your arm through the water. Make sure your stroke pattern crosses the mid-line of your body.
Repeat the stroke forward 12 times, following with the Back Stroke.
Note: If lying in bed, start with your arms in the Butterfly Position. Stroke your arms up, forward and down, bending your elbow as you draw your arm back up to repeat the stroke.
Staying in the same starting position as for the Swim, begin to draw your arm up diagonally across your body. The back of your hand should be facing up as you start your stroke. Allowing your body to rotate as you stroke, bend your elbow as you bring your arm back and down to complete the stroke. Breathe rhythmically as in the first exercise. Keep your tummy pulled in, but keep your knees and the rest of your body soft and relaxed as you swim. This is a wonderful moving stretch for the front of the chest and shoulder areas. Move fluidly through the phases of the strokes.
Repeat 12 times and follow with the Breast Stroke.
Bring your arms forward at chest level, the back of your hands together. Sweep your arms apart, keeping them extended until they are just behind you. Your palms are facing back. As you reach the back position, bend your elbows so the back of your hands are at the sides of your chest. Your elbows are up like wings. Push forward with your arms, toward the center of your body until your arms are extended, back of hands touching as in the beginning. As you push forward, slightly tuck your chin, allowing for a rounding of your upper back. Exhale as you do this phase. Inhale on the sweep open, raising your chin slightly to increase the stretch in the front of your body.
Repeat 12 times, following with the Modified Butterfly Stroke.
Maintaining the same wide-legged stance or sitting position, arms at side with palms facing in. Raise both arms to shoulder-level, scooping forward toward the middle. Exhale as you stroke, tucking your chin and letting the thumbs touch before you scoop down, apart and back. The stroke simulates what you would be doing in the water. As you stroke back, lift your chin and inhale deeply through your nose. Each time you exhale pull your abdominals in a little deeper, maintaining a stable low back throughout the stroke.
Repeat 6 to 12 times and follow with Side Stroke.
Standing or sitting with feet and knees together, elbows are bent in close to your sides with your palms touching as in a prayer-position. Inhaling deeply through your nose, stroke your right arm out and down toward your right leg as you lift the leg out to the side. You remain standing on your left leg as you also lift the left arm up and out diagonally, palm facing forward. Exhale through your mouth as you return arms and leg to starting position. Keep your abdominals firmly pulled in to maintain stability throughout the move.
This is both a balance exercise and a great diagonal body stretch.
Repeat 6 to 12 times and rest.
Note: If you are in good physical condition this sequence can be repeated 3 times. If done vigorously, these are both aerobic and energy demanding exercises. If done slowly and smoothly, they are a set of relaxing, moving stretches. In either case, they promote increased blood flow and oxygenation of the entire body and improved brain function.
Punching Bag Boxing
Stand facing imaginary opponent, with feet shoulder width apart, abdominals pulled in. With your elbows and wrists at mid- chest level, palm down, punch using alternate arms. Keep level though punch . Keep elbows lifted with top of the shoulders relaxed. Pull fist back at the same speed as you push it out. Do not snap elbow. Allow punch to move at diagonal across mid-line of body at chest level. As you push ,shift your weight onto the foot the direction of the punch. As you pull back return your weight to both legs.
Do not try to make this a fast move. Concentrate on rhythmic smoothness of the move
Note: If you do this in front of a mirror, you can watch to see you don’t hunch up your shoulders
Repeat 12 to 16 times. Do 3 sets.