Without fail, every new year gets us thinking about what we want to change in our life, and it's a sad fact that we probably think of the same things each year but don't actually do much about them. Most of us would love to be leaner and fitter, have more stamina, self discipline and above all have more energy. That's why making a real decision to start swimming for exercise will be the best choice to improve your health, fitness and well-being that you could make in 2017. Let's explore why swimming is such a great way to get fit.
Why Is Swimming A Good Choice For Exercise?
Firstly, swimming is a low impact exercise. That means it doesn't cause stress to your bones or joints, so it's especially ideal if high impact activities like jogging or step cause you problems, or you're worried that you may aggravate any existing injury. Conversely, if you do have an existing injury, swimming as hydrotherapy is a gentle way to stretch and mobilise muscles and joints that is recommended by physiotherapists. Secondly, swimming is a first rate cardio-vascular activity, giving your heart and lungs a controlled, gentle and sustained work-out that builds stamina and endurance. In fact, swimming at a good pace burns even more calories than running, at up to 790 calories per hour! Thirdly, swimming is a more effective way to exercise the entire body compared to workouts 'on land', because the body is working against the resistance of the water. You will develop greater muscle strength, both in your limbs and your trunk, strengthening the muscles of the back and the abdominal wall leading to that stronger and more toned torso which we all aspire to. Finally, swimming can be a very 'zen' activity, enabling the mind to zone out and refresh your spirit as well as your body. There's something intrinsically beautiful about water which calms us and melts away stress, whether your preferred time to swim is early in the morning to set you up for the day, or in the calm and still of the late evening. It's even possible to fit a session into a lunch break, if you're lucky enough to work close to a gym with a pool.
Which Swimming Activity Is For Me?
So now you understand the benefits of swimming as an exercise programme, consider what kind of swimming might appeal most to you.
- Are you a person who prefers a social element? Maybe a water aerobics class working out to music would motivate you.
- If you know you have a competitive streak, sessions for lane swimmers provide motivation to spur you on. Perhaps join a club to give you a challenge.
- If you love the great outdoors, there's even a range of open water swimming opportunities to give you a thrill.
How Do I Make Sure I Stick To Swimming?
As with any exercise, success in its outcomes is down to frequency. Here are some essential tips to plan for success by ensuring you keep to a regular schedule and maintain an effective programme;
- Research shows that our friends and family can be our worst enemies when it comes to things like exercise and dieting. Perhaps they're too nice, they let us get away with missing sessions. Why not make an agreement that you will have an hour a day, or whatever timing suits your life, to use for your swimming sessions - and that you'll repay the favour, of course. If you're choosing a training partner, maybe pick one that's not one of your besties, so you'll have more to prove and you won't get soft on each other!
- Decide what is practical for you and make a schedule. Stick to your planned sessions by adding them to your diary, and treating them with the same respect you would any other appointment. As a contingency plan, make a deal with yourself that if you do have to miss any of your sessions, you'll add them to the following week - that will make you more likely to keep up.
- Log your progress to keep up your interest and enthusiasm - use a training app, or a special watch that logs your distance, and be sure to write down what you have achieved in every session. Map the health benefits by having blood pressure and cholesterol tests at intervals - you'll be amazed at the difference your swimming has made, without the need for tablets or special diets.
- Exploit that competitive streak - make it your goal to beat your own record in some way, whether that's one more length than the day before, or the number of sessions you've completed without missing one.
Make this the year you achieve your goals in fitness, by enjoying an exercise programme of swimming!