If you’re thinking of taking up swimming, you can do so at any age. It’s never too late to learn to swim. You can be eight years of age, or 80; swimming welcomes people of all ages and abilities.
It’s a great form of all round exercise, and for an activity that gives your body an all-over workout, teaches essential life skills, can be embraced as an intense sport or enjoyed simply for fun, swimming takes some beating.
The physical benefits are pretty impressive – swimming can increase good health, particularly in the elder generation. Regular, gentle exercise in the pool can help to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while it is ideal for arthritis sufferers as it increases flexibility and mobility with low impact on the body.
Unlike road running, for example, the joints are protected from stress and strain and because of this, swimming is also perfect for anyone recovering from an injury. That’s the reason many professional athletes do their rehabilitation in the pool – the water’s buoyancy supports the body’s weight.
As an aerobic exercise, swimming has significant benefits. Even walking in the water is highly effective. With water providing 12 times the resistance of air, as you walk or push against the water to move forward, you’re strengthening and building muscle without necessarily feeling it.
For competent swimmers, exercising regularly and using the full range of strokes, you’ll build muscle and burn fat at a fairly decent rate. The movement of performing freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly, during a single session in the pool, provides a total body workout. It’s calculated that 30 minutes of swimming can burn anywhere from around 220 calories – at a recreational level – and up to 550 calories at a vigorous pace!
But of course, swimming is also just great fun and can be really enjoyable for kids. It can make them laugh, encourage them to be sociable and, of course, teaches valuable life skills – life-saving skills, in fact. Most schools still provide swimming lessons as part of the curriculum but, if you’re a parent, it’s worth considering additional sessions for your child or children, just to try and fine-tune technique.
If you decide not to consider lessons on a formal, tutored, basis, then at least try to get along to a local pool at the weekend purely for fun and to build on confidence in the water. It’s not as if swimming requires much money to participate: just trunks or a costume, goggles (if you choose) and floating aids for beginners and the inexperienced. Admission prices for pools are relatively low, and some local councils offer special discounted deals.
Above all else, swimming makes for perfect family time – children, parents, and grandparents can all enjoy it together. It’s the perfect holiday activity, too. If your children love swimming, you’ll never be stuck for entertainment if you’re abroad – just find a pool and everyone’s happy.
So, whether you’re a total beginner, weekend leisure splasher or semi-serious competitor in training, swimming is exercise suitable for all.