It’s National Learn to Swim Day on 18th May 2019 and as an old swimwear advert goes, “You’re only one swim away from a good mood!” and many research studies have acknowledged that fact- swimming is good for your body and state of mind.
According to the Sport England’s Active Peoples’ Survey, swimming has fallen by 24% in spite of the number of new swimming pools opened across the country since 2006. The number of adults swimming at least once a week in England has dropped by more than three quarters of a million in the past decade - a 23.7% drop.
Yet, swimming still remains the UK’s most popular mass participation sport, with about one in every 20 people aged over 14 swimming at least once a week.
As an activity, there are no restrictions when it comes to swimming. It doesn’t matter if you are young or elderly, competitive or social swimmer, fit or starting to get fit, swimming is for all levels.. The common thread that binds all swimmers is the love of water and the release of endorphins experienced after every swim session making you happier as a result.
No doubt this is a great family activity and a good excuse to pry the children away from their computer games or mobile devices. Parents are encouraged to join in and enjoy the benefits of the family unit time as well as enhanced strength and improved overall muscle tone that swimming offers.
Swimming is more than covering lengths in the pool. There are swim events such as the Les Mills Workout for Water, a charity event where proceeds go to providing clean water in Africa or the Disney inspired themed pool adventures for the whole family, with Disney’s most-loved characters including Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Pixar’s Toy Story 4 in the summer and Frozen 2 in the autumn of 2019 as well as Mickey Mouse and Friends in the first quarter of 2020 or party to hip hop or latin inspired music in water. Additionally there are water-workouts offering a variety of water aerobics from aqua zumba, aqua fit to water polo sessions for the fitness enthusiasts.
So what is the attraction with water here?
When it comes to the benefits of swimming, there are five reasons why swimming should be part of your repertoire of fitness activities, and not just for the warm season but all year round.
Let’s dive in…
1. Joint Pain - If all those HIIT classes, bootcamp training or racking up the miles on your runs has resulted in you suffering from joint pain, then swimming is the remedy to ease those aches away. The buoyancy of water relieves the pressure on your body and its warm temperature helps to ease any stiffness or discomfort you may experience; giving you a soothing effect your body needs after a heavy workout.
2. Improves Mental Health - According to research studies conducted swimming helps to significantly reduce effects of anxiety for the 8.2 million adults* in Britain and number of visits to see a medical professional has reduced as as result of swimming. Swim England also commissioned a YouGov poll, which revealed that more than 490,000 people have reduced, or no longer take medication for their mental health condition because of swimming.
3. Love running? Swimming helps - Did you know that swimming helps when you want to improve your running skills? According to a study conducted by Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports- the practice of controlled breathing while swimming greatly improves running ability. By utilising oxygen more effectively, runners perform faster and not tire so easily. All it takes are 12 training sessions in the pool to see the results.
4. Live longer? A study of 80,306 adults aged 30+ was conducted by researchers from Australia, Austria and the UK to identify how participating in specific sports will have an impact on prolonging life. They were asked about their participating in 6 sports namely aerobics, cycling, football, racquet sports, running and swimming and on average, swimming was found to be associated with 41% lower incidence of dying from cardiovascular disease and with 29% lower risk of premature death from any cause.
These results encourage and motivate anyone who is looking to take up swimming or who is already a swimmer. So if you want to live a healthier life, swimming is considered to be the best activity and it’s time to take the plunge!
5. Sense of a community feeling comes with swimming. Some fitness activities such as weight training or running can be seen as a solo activity but there’s a sense of community feeling when it comes to swimming. People you wouldn’t normally bump into become firm friends because of the shared love of the activity.
It’s never too late to learn to swim
Halo Leisure member from Ross on Wye, John Murrel, a grandfather was encouraged back into the pool by his grandson after giving up many years previously. He saw how much his grandson was enjoying swimming and he didn’t want to miss spending quality time with him in the pool. Today John has become a great swimmer and much fitter as a result as well as thoroughly enjoying the water. Read his full story here
Want to learn how to swim?
Some may have an inert fear of water and if you’ve never learned to swim before, the swimming pool can be quite a daunting place for a new swimmer. The secret is to treat water as your friend and you will be rewarded with the same once you are in it. When you are in the water, just play around until you feel comfortable remembering that it is recommended by professionals to try to breath with your head above water and not under the water. Learning to float helps with this and there are man made floats to help you avoid trying to breath under water.
The best way to learning how to swim is get an instructor to teach you the techniques such as treading in water and the different swimming strokes.
As with all exercises, it is important to warm up the body before jumping into the pool to allow the muscles to function better and to cool down after your swim.
Summer is coming- time to test the waters
Halo Leisure centres in England and Wales offer instructor taught swimming activities from private one to one sessions to weekly swimming lessons for both Adults and Children. Speak to your local Halo pool about the learn to swim programmes for adults and children. Checkout the swimming timetable for all Halo pools here