Why you should start Swimming. New Years Resolutions or Start Now.
Today I wanted to talk to you about one of my favourite ways to exercise: in the pool! Swimming is the perfect workout for your mental and physical health and its something that I love to do and have done for as long as I can remember. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know I used to ONLY swim, I was afraid to hit the gym floor. However good swimming is for you, though, its still great to switch up your workouts for a number of reasons: boredom, getting the most out of your workouts and to challenge yourself. But for now I want to tell you more about just why I love swimming and give you a few pointers on how to make this a good workout. I’ve always been a member of David Lloyd and I swear they have the best pools. You want to go somewhere with some good lanes, the waters not warm (trust me, you still sweat when you swim) and somewhere they have an organization to the swimming lanes (i.e. they tell you clockwise or anti clockwise).
So first of all lets talk about some of the benefits of swimming:
1. It’s a low imact sport
This is great because it provides more resistane than dryland exercises so you are really working those muscles. It also means that if you want to get serious with your workouts you can work out longer, with less impact on your joints.
2. Its really great for your lungs and in turn helps with other cardio activities.
So inevitably with swimming your face is under the water a lot, meaning oxygen isn’t always available. This means your body has to adapt to learn how to deal with this and so we start to be able to take in more fresh air with each breathe and expel more carbon dioxide. Its actually been found that swimmers had better amounts of oxygen going in and out of their lungs during normal relaxed breathing than runners. So with this comes lower resting heart rates, lower blood pressure and it means that once your body has learnt this you will become better at other cardio activities like running! This is something I have definitely felt. Once you get better at swimming you start to feel very calm in the water and your breath very steady. I like to swim long distance so this is great for that.
3. Great for stress and anti ageing!
This is one that I can whole heartedly say I agree with – the de-stressing part! Swimming is SO calming and it has been found that the water reduces the amount of sensory information your body receives so you will feel much calmer sensations. For me often I will go in to the pool feeling stressed or worried and I feel so utterly calm in the pool, but I do find my mind can wander and I will very often come out with ideas, inspiration and fresh thoughts. So how does it help the ageing process? So with the lung workout, the low blood pressure and the de-stressing its not hard to see why. But scientists have found that swimming also affects cholesterol, your central nervous system, cognitive functioning and muscle mass to name a few!
4. Great for weightloss
You burn plenty of calories swimming and I often think it’s the perfect sport for those that may feel self conscious or nervous in the gym. I know that might sound crazy because you’re in your swimming costume. BUT, you can literally walk right up to the pool, drop your towel and swim. So if you’re nervous, you want to loose some weight or you fancy a little alone time… I think swimming is for you.
I’ve spoken previously about what I do in the pool in a blog post that you can find here. But I often think for complete beginners its hard to know what even constitutes a ‘workout’ I know when I first starting using the actual gym I felt like I was floating about not knowing where to start, how many reps of things to do or what I was even working. So if you want some ideas of how to start let me tell you what I do.
Laps 1-10 alternate breast stroke & front crawl
(this is a good warm up and gets you using all your muscles and in different rotations so you’re nice and flexible).
Laps 10 – 20 Front crawl at a regular pace
This will get your heart rate up and then settled, almost as if you are preparing for a long distance swim. Make sure to focus on sweeping the water with your arms, whilst also engaging your thighs. You don’t want to kick with your ankles.
Laps 20 – 30 Front Crawl as fast as possible
This I do because after the last ten I don’t usually feel hugely out of breath, you will find this when you get used to a workout. It becomes easy. So to make the most out of my workout, get my heart rate up, do some cardio and work my muscles… I like to swim like a shark is chasing me!
Laps 30 – 40 Front crawl and breast stroke
Alternate between the two to get a little movement and flexibility.
Laps 40 – 50 Weighted fins and alternate between front crawl, back stroke (no arms), kicking with a kick board in front of you.
This is really a leg workout, I found that with swimming you work your shoulders and upper back a lot and I wanted to make sure I toned up and worked my legs. You will find these fins SO tiring so I cant do much more than 10 laps in a row.
Laps 60 – 70 Breaststroke
A nice calm breastroke to open up your chest and slow your heart rate.
Laps 70 – 80 Slow front crawl and back stroke to finish.
Optional 20 more of any stroke you choose (I did this only when I was at my best swimming fitness level).
I understand 80 laps is a lot so that is what I’d recommend for a strong swimmer looking to push themselves, but a good workout for a beginner would be 30 laps and for someone pushed for times and still a good swimmer try 60 laps. You can still do the same routine just less repetitions. Do try to swim as much as you can without stopping, this gets your heart rate up and the more you try, the more you can do!
After my swim I like to spend time in the spa area at David Lloyd. I have to say I was saying to my mum the other day how grateful I feel for the gym Im at. I go to the David Lloyd Swindon gym and I think its one of the best David Lloyd’s Ive ever been to, it really feels like home to me, its where I spent years revising for GCSE’s, A Levels, University exams and now its somewhere I love to hang out. The gym is somewhere to de-stress, escape and relax. The spa area has the usual sauna, steam and Jacuzzi but also these amazing hot beds where I can loose hours to a good book. So if you’re going to try something new for your mental and physical wellbeing an hour in the pool and 20 minutes or more in the spa will leave you stress free, chilled and super fit!
The gym I go to as I say is Swindon David Lloyd - Find it here
I hope you guys liked this blog post and that it might make you a little more inclined to try swimming or add it into your weekly workouts. I know I've cut back on swimming and intend to go once a week at least again.
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