I started to switch to swimming about 2 months ago when my knees, especially the right knee hurt each time I jogged or worked out on the air-walker in the gym. I have been jogging intensively for the past 15 years and I think that my knees have worn down, lost their sponginess, thus are unable to absorb as much shock and pressure. At times, I can even hear the ‘pounding’ and ‘clicking’ sounds of my knee bones from the friction when I run or walk.
I have never really liked swimming as I think it’s troublesome (towels and bath robes add on to my laundry and it does not help it that we stay in a condo and do not own a clothes dryer). I do not like the idea of having my skin and hair soaked in chlorine water and the nasty chemical aftertaste in my mouth after swimming. The first few minutes my body hits the cold water in the morning, I go into a fits of shiver. But you know what, I am now hooked on swimming every morning, at predawn! After sending off my girls to the transporter, I head straight to the pool. Residents who have seen me swimming at 6:30 a.m. marveled at me and asked me if I feel cold. Truth is, on wet and chilly mornings, yes the water is icy cold and sometimes I get a brain freeze the moment I dive into the pool! I shiver just by looking at the icy cold water on some mornings! Sometimes I would feel that I can’t hack the icy cold water and would have thoughts of crawling back to my bed with a blanket over my head, especially on a wet and cold morning, which is just perfect for sleep ins. But NO. I have a steely determination and I would jump right into the cold water.
Let me give you a little tip. To get rid of the shivers in the cold pool water, quickly swim several laps without stopping. It takes me 4-5 laps to warm my body up, after which, the pool water would feel slightly warm on my body. That’s when I am fully warmed up and feel comfortable enough to swim over 20 laps.
Swimming Health Benefits
Not only is swimming easy on the body, it’s a great way to get fit. There’s no ground impact or gravity when you swim, and so you protect the joints from stress and strain. Because there’s no impact with swimming, it can be continued for a lifetime. My 70-year old MIL swims everyday.
Swimming improves endurance. In one study of sedentary middle-aged men and women who did swim training for 12 weeks, maximal oxygen consumption improved 10% and stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped with each beat which indicates heart strength) improved as much as 18%.
It’s sweat-free! While swimming, your constant movement generates up to 85% of your body heat but because water that’s cooler than your core body temperature is continually moving all around you and cooling you down, you never feel over-heated or get sweaty.
It’s kinder to your heart. As you swim, the water that surrounds your body exerts pressure which helps your circulatory system return your blood to your heart. ‘The demand on your heart is reduced by up to 17 beats per minute or 13% compared to someone exercising on land.
Helps prevent type 2 diabetes. Swimming for at least half an hour three to four times a week, combined with eating a balanced low-glycaemic index (GI) diet, has been shown to control blood sugar levels, according to the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), the English national governing body for swimming.
Reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that swimming for 30 minutes at least three times a week can significantly lower your blood pressure. One study found that resting heart rate was considerably lowered after just 10 weeks of regular swimming. Plus, swimming for half an hour or longer helps reduce the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in your blood while raising the levels of HDL – good cholesterol, says the ASA.
Helps you manage your weight. Swimming breaststroke for 30 minutes will burn approximately 367Kcal, depending on your weight and speed. That beats walking, which burns only 99Kcal in the same time, cycling, which uses up 240Kcal in half an hour, and even running at 6mph, which burns 300Kcal.
I personally feel that the deep breathing I go through during swimming has helped to boost my mood. Additionally, I have fewer aches and sprains on my body now. Like other forms of exercises, swimming stimulates the release of feel-good hormone serotonin. And the best part about swimming is that I no longer have aches on my knees!