Updated: Mar 8
Exercise in any form is a great way of improving not only your physical, but also your mental health, and swimming is no exception. As it is a low-impact activity, it’s a great option for people of any age and varying levels of mobility.
Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise and is a probably more accessible than you may realise. If you are already registered at a gym with a pool then you probably already have access, so why not take a dip? Alternatively, if you don’t have an active gym membership, many sports centres allow non-members to use their pool facilities for a small fee.
During the warmer months, outdoor swimming is a great option as it allows you to get some fresh air while getting some exercise.
While open water swimming in rivers, lakes, reservoirs or the sea is a fresh and exhilarating alternative to your standard 25m chlorinated pool, it is not for everyone and there are safety issues to consider. 13 beaches across the UK have sectioned-off areas of the sea, often called a 'tidal-pool’, which is a much safer option than swimming in the open water as the walls reduce the impact of waves making the water calmer, and most are free to use!
If you do decide to go open water swimming, always ensure you are as safe as possible; follow local safety advice and heed notices which warn you of the danger, avoid rough water, and keep an eye on any children with you at all times. If you are not able to swim, or your aquatic abilities are not what they once were, but you are keen to take a dip, then do not despair. Adult swimming lessons are widely available and cater to all skill levels. A large number of adults who cannot swim believe that it is something they will never be able to master, but this not true - everyone has the ability to float, it is just the technique of moving safely in the water that must be learnt. Ask at your local sports centre about the kind of swimming lessons you would need, whether that's beginner or refresher tuition.
Benefits of Swimming
Swimming uses virtually all muscles from your head to your toes, so it is a great full body workout. Your pool session can be entirely tailored to you - it can be as high or low intensity as you wish.
As a low-impact sport, it keeps your heart rate up, tones muscles, and builds strength without causing much stress to your body.
Swimming regularly helps maintain a healthy weight.
It is a relaxing and peaceful form of exercise, and can be a great way to unwind, proving beneficial to your mental health.
Fun for all ages:
While swimming, the water supports up to 90% of your body, limiting pressure put on any physical ailments. Exercising in water can help those who need to improve flexibility and mobility, in particular.
Teaching a child to swim and allowing them to get comfortable in the water at a young age keeps their heart and lungs healthy, and improves their balance and posture.
Taking a dip at your local pool not only allows you to meet new people but is also a great activity to do with friends.
If you're not keen on swimming lengths, then why not try a pool-based fitness class like Aqua Aerobics with a friend?
Spending time with friends and having shared interests is good for your mental health.
Ability - For obvious safety reasons, it is vital to be able to swim before taking the plunge unless you’re learning and have a trained lifeguard nearby. Swim only where you feel comfortable, and always stay within your abilities.
Never swim alone – Even strong swimmers can drown if, for example, they become unwell whilst swimming. Avoid swimming by yourself and either take a friend who is a strong swimmer, or swim where there is a lifeguard present.
Lifeguards – Most public pools will have trained lifeguards, and some beaches also have designated swimming areas patrolled by a lifeguard. Try to ensure, especially in open water, that a lifeguard is present when you swim. So, as COVID restrictions begin to ease across the UK and the weather becomes warmer, why not make the most of your local swimming facilities?
Our sources and for more information: swimming.org everyoneactive.com rlss.org.uk betterhealth.vic.gov.au Free Health Promotion Resources: Be the first to receive Health Chatter information, and other content related to employee health and wellbeing by signing up to our Health Chatter emails.