Last weeks challenge for our year of healthy habits was to go swimming. Now I love swimming, I used to go a lot as a child in our local pool at home. But since I moved to London, almost ten years ago I’ve not been regularly and was reminded recently while on holiday how much fun it is to be in the water. In anticipation, I booked two tickets for me and my partner to go swimming at the weekend at the London Aquatics Centre - where the Olympics were held, as you can go and swim there for around £5 per person. Pretty cool, huh?
The health benefits of swimming of swimming are many as it provides a great cardiovascular exercise that works all of your muscles while also taking pressure off your body to support itself, as water supports up to 90% of your weight, so you only have to support 10% yourself. This means there’s less impact on your skeleton so it’s kinder to your bones and joints.
The more you swim, you increase your muscle tone and become stronger. By swimming and moving through water you are effectively doing resistance exercises which are best known to build muscle and increase your strength, as water is twelve times as dense as air, so it’s harder to move through.
Not only do you strengthen and tone your muscles but as a cardio exercise you’re also working out the heart - it becomes more efficient at pumping, leading to better blood flow within your body and could lead to reduced blood pressure as well.
Swimming is also known to improve your flexibility as well as help people manage their weight. It’s great as a form of exercise for people with asthma as you work out in moist air and can improve the condition over all. And it can lower the risk of developing type two diabetes and improve cholesterol within the body.
Swimming is extremely enjoyable so it’s great for lowering stress alongside boosting your happiness and wellbeing just from the endorphin rush you can get from exercising. So if you are able to swim and don’t, we’d recommend getting out there, and if you can’t swim, it’s never too late to learn.
HOW DID IT GO?
I was quite excited to go, as I mentioned I haven’t been regularly in years but I have always loved swimming. I knew I’d be a little rusty but as with anything if you can do it regularly you’ll get better.
My partner and I arrived at the London Aquatics Centre at 10:30am and headed on through to get changed and go for a swim in the lanes in the 50m competition pool. There were six lanes that had been split into, slow, medium and fast and I joined the slow lane thinking if it was too slow I could join the medium lane - oh how cocky that thinking was. I was definitely one of the slowest in the lane so kept to trying to keep to the back of our queue of people going round. While my partner swapped between the medium and slow lanes.
Having never swam in a pool that big, we both realised that we were getting tired more quickly than we were used to - our old pool was about half the size, and by the time I got to the end and back of the lane I felt my legs were really sore - probably due to poor technique, but I needed to stretch them in the pool after each time I had gone round as I could feel my quads starting to cramp. My partner on the other hand could feel it in his triceps the most.
You’re allowed to stay as long as you want, ’until you get tired’ was what we were told at the desk when we arrived - and we stayed for about an hour and a half. I think I did between 8 and 10 laps which took me about an hour with stops in between, super slow, but who cares - movement is movement. After we left we were both in really great moods and could feel the positivity hours after we had finished. It was a really fun way to spend a morning and we’ve both said we’d like to make it a regular thing at the weekends. So hopefully, this was a successful healthy habit we can incorporate into our lives, and (fingers crossed) get faster at.
Image by Maria Svarbova