I can’t believe it’s been a month already since I published my first blog spot, where I promised to bring you great skincare, optimum nutrition and a little exercise. Time flies, but I think it’s about time I dropped in a couple of musings on one my favourite sporting activities…
I’ve never been one of those ‘sporty types’, ever since I ran the 100 metres at school and changed my running style mid race from short and fast steps, to slow, giant gazelle-like strides in an attempt to gain distance over my rivals, and promptly came last 🙁 To be fair, I probably would have come last anyway, but you get the picture…
Swimming though – I love it! Well I do once I’ve been, but hauling my carcass to the pool in the first place is often the biggest barrier between me and a fitter me! Although I’ve found this to be a common problem amongst those who exercise regularly in order to maintain a sensible level of fitness, and don’t necessarily want to compete in a triathlon. “It’s too cold; I’m too tired; I don’t feel great; I haven’t got time”, and how about “I can’t be bothered”!

Swimming is a fantastic all over body workout where you use all your muscles to propel yourself through the water. It’s also a great stress reliever, as it allows you an opportunity to ‘switch off’ from some of life’s daily challenges, and release those endorphins – the neurotransmitters your brain produces that trigger a feeling of positivity and well-being 🙂 You need to keep that feeling in mind every time another part of your brain tries to sabotage your attempt to do any exercise!

Here are some interesting facts about swimming…

  • You can swim hard or gently but, whichever way you do it, it’s guaranteed to be low impact as the water supports 90% of the body’s weight whilst swimming, making it easier on the joints.
  • A medium paced half hour freestyle burns up to 255 calories.
  • A fast paced freestyle can burn as many calories as an 8mph run!
  • The most calorie burning strokes are butterfly and breaststroke, where you can burn up to 700 calories in 1 hour. Phew, that’s lucky – I tend to stick with breaststroke, as I’m rather like Eric the Eel when I attempt any other stroke :-0
  • As with most regular exercise, it can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
  • It’s good to mix your swimming strokes up a bit, or even use training aids like a kick board, which is a great way to tone up your legs!
  • Most public pools use a mix of both salt water and chlorine.
  • You still sweat when you swim, but you don’t notice it because you are wet already.
  • It’s a great year round activity that isn’t weather dependent.
  • It’s cheap – all you need is a costume, goggles, and a fetching swimming cap, so far less expensive than many other sports where you need several kits, shoes, equipment etc. I’m fortunate enough to belong to a sports club that has a 25m pool, but you can take up swimming at your local authority leisure centre for a very reasonable price, and the pools are often even bigger.

And some other interesting but perhaps a little less useful facts about swimming…

  • Swimming first became an Olympic event in 1896, but women were not allowed to participate until 1912 :-0
  • In ancient Greece, a common insult about somebody was to say that he or she neither knew how to run or swim. How very civilised 🙂
  • The world’s largest outdoor swimming pool is the Crystal Lagoon at San Alfonso del Mar, Chile, which is nearly 1000m long, and holds 66 million gallons of seawater!

Some people worry about the ‘contaminants’ in public swimming pools and, whilst it’s true that infectious waterborne diseases as well as other unsavoury pathogens can sometimes be found in them, most pool operators will be bound by the guidelines issued under the relevant Health and Safety Act and will be keen to avoid a situation where their pool is forced to close due to unsanitary conditions. Most public pools will also require you to shower prior to entering the pool and will operate a pool filtration and re-circulation system that optimises sanitation effectiveness.

As well as my fetching swimming cap, I also wear pool socks that help protect your feet against any fungal diseases that may be present on pool tiles and surrounding areas.
Am I selling it to you yet!?!
It’s also important to ensure that you have a good wash of both your skin and your hair after a swim, as the chemicals can be harsh on both. I don’t use anything special on either but a good hair oil can protect your hair in addition to your cap, and always moisturise after showering to counteract the drying effects of swimming pool water.

So there you have it, one of my favourite forms of exercise, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea but is certainly worth considering if you want to change up your routine and do something a little less high impact 🙂

Musings about some of my other sporting activities, including tennis, yoga, and pilates, will be covered in a future post 🙂