24 Aug Going For Gold: Dive Off The Couch And Into The Pool
There’s nothing like the Olympics to fire up enthusiasm for getting back into exercise, and what better sport for all round fitness and muscle tone than swimming?
If you are a little short on motivation, just take a look at the spectacular display of abs and lats on the pool deck in Rio, and imagine yourself gliding through the water in an effortless display of speed, endurance and perfect physique.
For those of you who are struggling to imagine yourselves off the couch, let alone into togs and swimming cap, perhaps it’s best to start in the shallow end with a quick splash through the health benefits of swimming.
Whether you like to burn through the laps or dawdle in the slow lane, one of the best things about swimming is that it builds cardiovascular fitness without the impact of weight-bearing activity. While most forms of sustained physical activity come with the risk of damage to your joints, swimming allows you to get your heart rate up whilst being gentle on your body.
Because swimming is a sport which takes place in the water, any physical activity in the pool immediately involves a level of resistance which contributes to your workout. The action of propelling your body through the water utilises nearly all of your muscle groups, building endurance and overall strength. Swimming causes the body to adapt and optimise its use of oxygen, so that individuals who participate in both swimming and running, for example, note a significant improvement in their lung capacity.
You can swim at a higher intensity more regularly than you can undertake most other forms of exercise, and swimming is actually more beneficial for your overall recovery program than straight-out rest. Swimming is particularly valuable when recovering from injury, and can help increase mobility and maintain cardiovascular fitness while avoiding reinjury to damaged areas.
In addition to all these things, swimming is a great way to de-stress. Diving into the water and getting into the rhythm of laps helps to minimise external stimulus, so that swimming provides both a chance to exercise and an opportunity for much needed peace and quiet in a hectic world.
While it may be a little late for you to win gold in the pool in Rio, it’s never too late to get into swimming! With a wide range of health benefits like expanding your lung capacity and increasing your muscle tone, swimming is the ideal activity to add to your exercise program if you want to optimise your fitness and boost your performance in and out of the pool.