In the Swim
Making a Splash
The great thing about swimming is that everyone can do it, even the incredibly lazy! It doesn't matter if you are young or old or somewhere in between. You can swim alone or with others - there really aren't any downsides or health limitations. Whatever your fitness level, your health will improve with a regular swimming regime. You don't have to be competitive if you don't want to be. Swimming for your own enjoyment is enough to help you gain significant improvement in your overall stamina and lung capacity. It's an activity you can do at your own pace and is worth it for that 'feel good factor' alone.
For the more adventurous, you could join a water aerobics class but even just splashing around on your own can be advantageous and you will no doubt feel invigorated afterwards. You will sleep better too and thus be more inclined to repeat the process if you feel immediate benefits. Swimming can elevate your mood and tones every muscle in your body.
Babies usually take to the water easily and it's quite possible to introduce them to swimming from birth. Providing the water is the correct temperature and you have the appropriate flotation aids for their age and weight and a swim nappy, there is no reason to wait until your baby is older. Ensure that baby doesn't swallow the water and that they are altogether happy with the experience. If they are clearly not impressed with all things aquatic, try again in a few weeks and perhaps take a familiar bath toy along to the pool with you to get them more interested.
Slim and Swim
For those who would like to shed some weight, swimming can be their best ever ally, if they can overcome any inhibitions about body image first. There's no excuse to avoid a splash in the pool; people come in all shapes and sizes so there will always be someone bigger or smaller than you. Don't let negative feelings about your size become an obstruction to your good intentions. Affordable and flattering swimwear is available in almost every style, size and colour, so your regular swim need not become an expensive pastime. Regular swimming can be a useful addition to any weight management programme because the water is supporting your weight so you don't have to exert yourself or become hot and sweaty as you would with an ordinary work out. You can swim as much or as little as you please but to gain the most benefit, a regular swim of an hour's duration, two to three times a week is recommended.
You Don't Have to go to Great Lengths
You can invent your own pool aerobics if you don't want to stick to, or can't manage the usual strokes. Even 'doggy paddle' can get you from one end of the pool to the other. Try floating on your back and kicking your legs in the air at the same time but if you can't float no matter how hard you try, then just hold onto the edge of the pool whilst raising your legs up and down.
Nowadays, people expect far more from a swimming pool than the uninspiring, rectangular structures of yesteryear with a solitary diving board at one end. Those once ubiquitous diving boards are no more, thanks to Health and Safety regulations but now we have other delights on offer such as saunas, jacuzzis and steam rooms to name but three. An ordinary swimming session can now become a hedonistic and indulgent spa experience for adults. Kids don't have to miss out either as there are fancy flumes, lazy rivers and wave machines all designed to thrill at most modern pool complexes. It's enough to make any adult want a second childhood!
The therapeutic properties of bathing in seawater have been widely known for centuries so if you are lucky enough to live near the coast, you will no doubt be able to enjoy a 'dip in the briny' on a regular basis (weather permitting). Some coastal spa hotels even offer treatments with heated sea water and this is known as Thalassotherapy. You will find an assortment of plunge pools of different temperatures as this can be beneficial to health and well-being. This feature dates back to Roman times where there would be three different pools in a typical Roman bathhouse; one hot, (caldarium) one medium (tepidarium) and one cold (frigidarium).
There's nothing better than a swim in the sea accompanied by a walk along the sands. This is usually classed as a luxury most people can only afford once or twice a year when on holiday but if you live beside the seaside you can take advantage of your surroundings to boost your fitness regime. Even if the sea is too cold to swim in, a paddle, barefoot along the sands will do your feet the power of good.
Even those adults who are not confident swimmers can take advantage of a regular dip in the pool or sea as there is now a range of tubular foam floating aids available which you twist around your body to support you in the water; but remember, never get out of your depth and try not to swim alone. Safety in the water should be uppermost in your mind even if you are a confident swimmer and extra caution never goes amiss whenever children are present. They should never be left unsupervised even in shallow water with their armbands on.
It's great to relax and have a few cocktails around the pool but don't overdo it. Too much alcohol and sunshine are not a good combination where safety in the water is concerned.
Never swim when the red flag is flying and heed all advice from lifeguards on the beach and around the pool. 'Wild' swimming where people swim in undesignated areas is becoming an increasingly popular pastime but it can be fraught with danger. Great care should be taken not to swim where it's advised not to. Places such as reservoirs and rivers may look calm and harmless but can often prove treacherous and sometimes fatal.
Be careful when swimming outdoors in summer weather, especially if you are fair- skinned with blue eyes. Whatever your ethnic origin, always wear a suitable waterproof sunscreen appropriate for your skin type and time of day. Every droplet of water will act as a mirror intensifying the sun's rays, so be sure you cover particularly sensitive areas such as shoulders and noses with a reputable brand of sunscreen. If you are constantly in and out of the water, you will have to reapply the product many times throughout the day. Be wary of sunscreen products that state you only need to apply them once a day as they are ineffective.
You can select from a range of stylish swimming caps if you wish, to keep your ears unblocked and your hair protected from the drying effects of both seawater and chlorine. After your swim and shower, dry off thoroughly to avoid conditions such as chapped skin and athlete's foot and use a reputable moisture cream, especially on areas prone to dryness.
Further Fitness Ideas
Swimming can be incorporated into a regular fitness plan that includes walking and cycling too. These are also two great forms of exercise that can be done at a leisurely pace and are suitable for people of all ages. You don't even need to take to the roads nowadays and brave the traffic as every gym has a selection of walking machines and cycling machines available. Plug in your headphones and listen to some lively music and all that time spent exercising won't seem like hard work at all.
© 2019 Stella Kaye