Health by Swimming

Published on 15/11/2006 in Health

Swimming in SpainSwimming is Five Star

I had the Sunday Times book of health and fitness once which listed all the activities we humans do, and graded them according to those three fitness principles; endurance, flexibility and aerobic exercise. It even graded hoovering using these benchmarks and it was then that I decided to give up that activity as a bad job, so poor was its rating. However, I digress. The activity that came out as five star was swimming. It really is so good for you especially those of us who are not on our outward journey anymore ‘Silver Surfers’ they call us in the UK internet cafes. Those days of jogging are behind us now especially us folk who suffer back troubles and I have never been one to fight machines in a gym. Those places are always bedecked with mirrors, and fat looks bad enough when it’s still let alone moving. However, I can appreciate the attraction and the health benefits for gym goers.

So What is the Big Deal About Swimming?

When you think about it we have been given the ability to move in two different mediums air and water and as flying isn’t an option, we ought to take advantage of those that we have. I can’t imagine anything worse than not being able to just plunge into the pool or the sea when it is really hot as it is here in the summer. Going back to those three principals; Aerobic exercise is all about raising your heart rate and working your lungs- which swimming does. Endurance is about lengthening the time you can exercise, and you should start off slowly and build up gradually with any exercise. Lastly flexibility, choosing an exercise which involves moving the whole body and putting those elbows, shoulders and knees through their paces can only be beneficial and swimming is a whole body experience. Those exercise gurus recommend twenty minutes of exercise three times a week. I don’t believe it matters how slow a swimmer you are, if you can build up gradually to twenty minutes each time you take the plunge, you can always build up your speed later.

Non Swimmers

And what about those poor non swimming souls amongst you who had older brothers or sisters who chucked you into the deep end of the pool, either because they were bullies and wanted a good laugh at your expense, or just thought you would resurface swimming like Mark Spitz (showing my age there!) Have you dared go near the water since? Are you the one left on the poolside saying “Nan’s too tired to swim today” to their grandchildren who are begging you to go into the water, or you could pretend to swim, like my dad used to, by hopping on one leg in the water using the appropriate arm action.

And What About Your Health?

If you do nothing else in your life, learn to swim. You owe it to yourself to maximise your potential to keep fit and healthy. If you are terrified of the water, don’t be afraid to admit it. Get someone to teach you. It will be one of the most rewarding achievements that you will ever accomplish. I taught two of my best friends to swim. They were both in their fifties and so frightened of the water that one of them took a cloth to the swimming baths in case the water went on her face. Don’t be afraid to use all the flotation aids there are now available for adults, arm bands and woggles (these new polystyrene sausages).

Cheap Sport

Once you have learnt to swim, if you have access to a pool, swimming is free, unlike other sports that people enjoy on the Costa del Sol i.e. golf, tennis etc. Then, there’s always the sea, which some people, actually find easier to swim in.

Get a Good Teacher!

Get someone to teach you who will go in the water with you and build up your confidence. I hear parents saying all sorts of stuff to their children like “If you don’t learn to float you will never swim”. Not true, some people will never float because of their physical make up. “Just put your head under the water” is another comment. Can you imagine how terrifying that sounds to someone who cannot even bear to put their big toe in? It’s all about confidence and people feeling safe and in control. When this is achieved the great pleasure I have as a swimming teacher is to see someone enjoying the sensation of being in the water and for them to feel the benefits to their health and well being.

Please Note:

If you are unsure about taking up swimming, consult your GP first.

Warning: If you are going to be swimming this summer remember the golden rule “Beer in, brains out, don’t drink, you'll sink”.


Written by: Helen Woodrow

About the author:Helen Woodrow is a PE teacher and youth worker with nearly thirty years of teaching experience gives us her opinion on what she believes is one of the “five star” sports, swimming. If you want to find out more about learning to swim on the Costa del Sol, please contact Helen by email helenwoodrow2001@yahoo.co.uk or call (0034) 646511998. Helen gives one to one lessons in and is particularly sensitive to the needs of nervous swimmers. She can travel to your own private or community pool between Estepona and Sotogrande.This article was originally featured on the soon-to-be-launched website Women in Spain




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