What swimming will do for you
Swimming is a great aerobic activity for people of ALL AGES and has many physical and mental health benefits. It can provide you with a low-impact workout reducing pressure on the joints whilst also being a good way to relax and feel good. Furthermore, regular swimming can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
However, possibly most beneficial for those in positions of pressure and stress… It will boost your mood and clear your mind; literally placing you in a state of ‘flow’ due to the levels of enjoyable concentration.
If you cannot swim, it’s never too late to learn. Most pools will cater for a variety of needs and abilities helping you to build confidence in the water, such as women-only classes, parent-and-toddler groups, and adult lessons for different age groups.
What exactly are the benefits?
1. Swimming provides a full body workout; it uses all the muscles in the body. Exercising in water makes your body work harder to overcome the natural resistance of the water, and this also helps to strengthen the connective tissue in your body. 30 minutes in a pool is worth 45 minutes of the same activity on land.
2. It is great for wellbeing, lowering stress hormone levels and general relaxation. Just 30 minutes of swimming three times a week alongside a balanced, healthy diet and lifestyle is one of the best ways to stay fit and healthy and maintain a positive mental outlook. Swimming regularly can lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve your sleep patterns.
3. Swimming is one of the most effective ways to burn calories. A gentle swim can burn over 200 calories in just half an hour! More than double that of walking. And a faster swim would see more calories burnt in the same time frame compared to running or cycling. Take a look at the calorie cruncher calculator on www.swimming.org for an estimated amount of calories burned and makes comparisons between other sports such as walking, cycling and running.
4. Swimming lowers the risk of diseases. As well as being a great form of cardiovascular exercise, swimming just 30 minutes a week can help to guard against heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
5. Swimming is a form of low impact exercise and is therefore suitable to injury management and rehabilitation. The water supports up to 90% of the body’s weight. So if you have a long term injury or illness, swimming is a brilliant way to stay active without a high risk and may even promote healing.
6. Swimming Increases your energy levels. Inactivity and ageing is often responsible for people’s lack of energy. Just 30 minutes of swimming three times per week can boost your energy levels through increased metabolic rate.
7. Exercising without the sweat. If sweating puts you off other forms of exercise, swimming is for you! As a swimmer, you’ll never feel sweaty no matter how hard you work because the water around you is constantly cooling you down.
8. Social benefits! Swimming can be effective solo or in groups. You may prefer to swim laps, if you like to work out by yourself. But if you like being in a group, many pools have aquatic exercise classes for all levels. If you are older, pregnant, or disabled, there is likely a specialised class just for you.
Tips to stay motivated
Always plan to stay consistent! Start by scheduling time in your calendar, even once a week for 20-30 minutes to swim locally. Keep this time free in your diary like you would a meeting so you can stay consistent. Consistency is key.
Another way to stay motivated is to monitor your progression in the water. Variables to consider when progressing can include increasing frequency of training, counting the number of laps swam, monitoring time in which laps are swam, learning different strokes and drills.
Can I swim if I have a health condition or injury?
Swimming is one of the best aerobic workouts for people with most types of arthritis, as it can take the load off your joints and help prevent injuries. It is also a good choice if you have low back pain; warm water especially can be very soothing on achy joints and muscles.
Check with your doctor first if you are having joint pain, have had a recent injury, joint replacement, or are having an arthritis flare.
If you have diabetes, swimming can be a very important part of your diabetes treatment plan. It will help you burn calories, lose weight, and keep your blood sugars under control. If you have high cholesterol, you will also benefit from swimming. It will help you lower your ”bad” LDL cholesterol and raise your ”good” HDL cholesterol.
If you have heart disease or other medical problems, check with your doctor first to see what kind of swimming program is right for you.
If you are pregnant, the buoyancy of the water will take stress off your joints. If you swam before you became pregnant, you will likely be able to continue swimming unless you have a problem with your pregnancy. There are just a couple of things to consider. Make sure that the water is not too hot or too cold. And if the breast stroke worsens any existing pelvic discomfort, choose another stroke and talk to your doctor.
So… could you spare 45 minutes to an hour a week to enjoy these great benefits? If you do, just watch how it improves other areas of your work and life!
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