Since Rio 2016 there has been a rush to local pools as lots of us want to join in. No matter what your fitness level or experience, you will get a boost from taking a dip. You may not quite match the awe inspiring performances from the Olympics and Paralympics, but you will have fun and feel fitter as a result.
Benefits of swimming
Swimming is one of the few activities that gives your whole body a workout, rather than targeting one area. You really use all the muscles in your body, including your core and back – essential for maintaining an active lifestyle. The wide range of movements you do while swimming also increases your flexibility and tones your muscles.
You also get to set your own pace; there’s no pressure to keep up, get the steps right or be an expert. You can set your own target, maybe a number of lengths or a specific time period in the pool. You can build in breaks to get your breath back, extra activities if you’re feeling energetic or slowly speed up your swim over time.
Exercising in water has some unique and fantastic benefits too. As you move your arms and legs you are pushing against the water, meaning all your movements are taking more energy than they would on land, and that extra effort gives you added benefit. We all enjoy the sensation of floating in the water, but that buoyancy actually has a huge benefits to your joints. The support of the water means you can exercise your muscles without stressing your knees and hips; particularly helpful if you are injured, pregnant or maybe just have a niggle in your knee.
Swimming for weight loss and fitness
Building muscle helps burn fat, so combining swimming with a healthy diet can help you lose weight. Importantly, working those muscles has cardiovascular benefits. Your lungs and heart need to pump harder to supply oxygen to your body; which over time reduces your blood pressure and decreases your resting heart rate – it will even reduce your stress levels. The good news is that the benefits last even after you have finished, when your body continues to use energy to recover and rebuild muscle tissue.
Essential life skill
Swimming is a life skill. It may sound like a bit of a cliché, but it is absolutely true. It is your passport to fitness, fun with friends and new hobbies. But did you know that one in five adults in the UK is unable to swim? And more worryingly, half of 7 to 11 year olds can’t swim 25 metres. Whether you want to sail, canoe or just have fun in the sea on holiday, swimming really can save your life. If you don’t feel confident in the water then look into swimming lessons, and make sure that you can live life to the full.
Maybe you are already a regular swimmer and are looking for a new challenge. Aquarobics combines the aerobic training, with the benefits of exercising in water. Lively music and a motivating instructor makes this a popular choice to tone your body. How about combining swimming with running and cycling? Triathlons are not just for fitness fanatics; more people than ever are enjoying combining different forms of exercising. But if you are more motivated by outside space, take a look at open swimming – a growing sport that lets you explore rivers and lakes, usually in wet suits and organised groups!
Swimming for fundraising
Exercising is often easier if we have a goal in mind, and lots of us find fundraising a marvellous motivator. Swimathons or sponsored swims are both good ways to raise money for charity, but also focus our swim training. Get together with family or friends to make a team – and have fun making a difference to someone else.
Top tips for Successful Swimming Workouts
1. Do your swim at a set time each week – making it part of your routine means you are more likely to keep going
2. Investigate your local pool – they probably have dedicated times for different groups or swim clubs which may work well for you
3. Plan your workout with our swim programme cards.
4. Warm up and stretch before your start – you don’t want sore muscles the next day
5. Keep hydrated – a handy bottle of water will make during and after exercising will stop that thirsty feeling.
6. Have fun – take along a friend play some games when you have finished your workout!