Moving away from the gym for this post – swimming is a well known as a brilliant all-round full body exercise and workout. Recommended by many fitness experts and personal trainers, going for a swim benefits the body and the kind, and is fun as well.
Further, you can adapt your swim to your needs and preferences. You can pit yourself against the clock, and race through 30/40 laps as if competing for the Olympics, or go through 60/70 laps ad if preparing for a long distance, cross Channel swim. It also does not matter whether you are the graceful butterfly swimmer, the plodding backstroke swimmer, or the one perfecting your best doggy paddle; swimmers of all ability are seen in the pool.
Going for a regular session in the pool is good for your health, your fitness and can even help you lose weight. If you are nervous in the water, or a weak or inexperienced swimmer, it is s never too late to have lessons, or to improve. Most pools and centres have a wide range of classes for different ages and swimming abilities.
One of the many benefits of swimming regularly is that it may help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases in some people. The full body workout can also improve your overall wellbeing – both physical and mental. Recent studies and reports highlight how swimming cuts men’s risk of dying early by about 50% when compared to runners, walkers and above all to those who don’t do any regular physical activity. The same studies found that regular swimming is also great for both sexes because the vigorous activity is highly likely to actually reduce stroke, heart disease and Type-2 Diabetes by about 535 cases in 100,000 people.
Long standing and often ignored NHS guidelines on health and exercise suggest that adults should do at least 30 minutes (preferably more) of moderate-intensity activity on five or more days a week. Swimming for 30-minutes at your local pool on one or more days of the week will count greatly towards that recommended weekly activity target. However, any amount of time exercising, regardless of how long or short, is good for your health and fitness.
Another of the numerous benefits of swimming is that whilst swimming the motions will take over and become automatic, allowing you to let your mind float away. Once you get into it, swimming can become almost like a meditative trance, and therefore a gear way to clear your mind. Similarly, swimming van help to de-stress after a long hard day for similar reasons. Swimming can offer a sense of mental wellbeing; something which can’t easily be measured but is anecdotally mentioned by thousands of participants in the recent studies and reports. It is that sense of wellbeing and mental clarity that can also bring great (mental and emotional) health to regular swimmers.
One significant reason why swimming is considered a great form of exercise is, amongst other things, swimming can often support up to 90% of the body’s weight in the water. Those who are overweight, have disabilities, or have sustained certainly significant injuries, can go swimming without putting so much strain on their bodies.
Further, swimming essentially gives you a full body workout. The motions of swimming use muscles in the core, chest, legs, back, shoulders and even hands. Indeed, if you swim for long and hard enough, you can create aerobic and anaerobic circuits and routines to greatly improve your cardiovascular fitness. According to swim coach Nikki Geelan swimming “is one of a few sports that covers the three S’s …. stamina, suppleness and strength… It’s not weight bearing so is good exercise for people with joint problems. It also works all of the major muscle groups in the body.”
There is a lot more to said in favour of swimming as a form of exercise – all of which are covered in Part 2, Swimming: Weight Loss, The Pool & Beyond.