Monday, September 27, 2010

Swimming---Going to Great Lengths

A swimmer performing the front crawl.Image via Wikipedia

Swimming offers both a short - and long-term payback for those who do it regularly and with a reasonable level of intensity.

Quite simply, it can save your life. In the short-term and hopefully unlikely scenario – falling into deep water perhaps far from shore – the ability to remain calm and swim strongly can be a life saver. In the long-term, it is an aerobic exercise that boosts cardiac fitness and improves both quality and duration of life.

There is also the bonus of a “swimmer’s build” for those most religious in their workouts in the pool. But swimming isn’t just for elite athletes. Whether you do the breaststroke, side stroke, front crawl or even the dog paddle, any exercise in the water is beneficial. As your skill level and endurance increases, you may feel comfortable to increase the intensity of your workout.

Swimming has a long history, with its earliest records going back to paintings of about 7,000 years ago. It was part of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. Thankfully, my roots in swimming are much more recent. I was born a water baby. Growing up near the St. Clair River and Lake Huron, I learned to love the water at an early age and was soon paddling and swimming through it. For me, swimming is both for exercise and a stress reliever. Working and standing on my feet takes a toll on my body, causing stiffness. Swimming loosens the muscles and provides a sense of well-being. Swimming laps can be boring, but I do most of my best thinking when in the water. It clears the mind.

But it is not so good for the hair and skin. Chlorine and salt water can also take a toll on your swim suit. It’s worth paying a little extra to get a good swim suit and good products to keep your skin from drying out and to prevent your hair from discoloring.

But any of these problems are easily remedied.

So what’s stopping you? Get in the swim.

Kathy Dowsett

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