05 Dec Add the enjoyment of swimming to your life
I was starting to get a bit bored with swimming lengths for exercise, until I ran across Greg Whyte’s book * at the local public library. Oh, sure, I knew swimming is good for body and mind. Physically, it exercises muscles, heart, and lungs, and gets the blood flowing which is good for the brain. Mentally, swimming helps reduce anxiety, improve mood, and increase self-confidence. It also gives us time to clear our minds, and focus on what really matters to us. But knowing swimming is good for us might not keep us motivated over the long term.
Whyte’s message comes through loud and clear; we can make swimming for exercise an enjoyable experience. He recommends starting slowly and gradually at whatever level you’re comfortable (check health precautions before starting an exercise program**). Perhaps you’ve never swum, or you used to, or you’ve kept it up more or less.
Start wherever you feel comfortable – for example, join an aquatic exercise class if you’re not a swimmer, take lessons, or brush up your swimming strokes. Whyte explains the technique for four basic strokes if you’re interested in that. He also encourages goal-setting to help keep you motivated, and keeping track of your swimming, perhaps on a wall calendar or in a personal diary.
Whyte suggests altering swimming volume to help keep things interesting for you – how long or how far you swim X how hard you swim X how often. The important thing is to switch things around. You may decide to swim three times in one week instead of your usual two, or swim 10 minutes longer once in a while, or swim fast for a few lengths and then swim slowly for a bit, or change your swimming stroke every few minutes. Better yet, learn a new stroke to help stimulate new connections in the brain.
Ways to stay motivated include swimming with others, joining a swim club or taking lessons, and adding lake or ocean to your swimming places. You might also want to add land-based strength training and flexibility routines to augment your swimming.
Who knows what results swimming will bring for you – losing a few pounds, feeling more energetic, feeling less stressed, gaining confidence, enjoying life more, giving up smoking…
* Greg Whyte. Swimming for Exercise – Optimize your technique, fitness and enjoyment. Firefly Books, Buffalo, New York, 144 pages
Also see Checking “health precautions”
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