Swimming for fitness is great all round form of cardiovascular exercise, whatever your age or ability. Not only is the activity a lifelong skill that could save your own or another’s life, but it also reduces your risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise is also proven to boost your mood, improve mental health and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Benefits of swimming

Swimming is a great full body workout as it uses all the main muscle groups in your body, whatever stroke you do. Exercising in water also forces your body to work harder than usual, meaning that 30 minute of exercise in a pool is roughly equivalent to 45 minutes on land.

Water also supports much of the body’s weight, so it is a great form of exercise for those with injuries or long term illness that prevents other high-impact activities. Swimming is generally considered as a safe form of exercise, but if you do have a chronic health condition, NICE guidelines still recommend consulting with your GP before starting regularly.

It is also suggested that swimming can reduce stress levels, help with anxiety and depression and can overall boost your mood, self-esteem and mental health. Polls suggest too that people who undertake regular vigorous exercise such as swimming having improved sleep, and can help with problems such as insomnia.

How to get started

The best place to start is at your local pool, where it is likely you will find a swimming session that suits your intentions and abilities. Whether you are already a swimming pro or a beginner, there will be a class or swimming session to suit your needs. Many pools offer adult-only beginners lessons and there are often free 50+ swim sessions that you can take advantage of if you fall into an older age bracket.

If you intend to swim regularly it may be beneficial to investigate the price of membership to your local gym or pool. This information should be freely available

Just one 30 minute session several times a week can count towards the NHS’s weekly recommended physical activity target of 150 minutes. If you make this routine a habit and set aside these 30 minute time slots in your week you will find it easier to stay motivated.

Swimming with a friend, your family, or with a club can also turn your weekly exercise into a social activity that keeps you motivated. A friend of a similar ability to yourself will be able to keep pace with you and you can challenge and push each other to achieve more in the pool. Likewise, joining a club is a great way to make new friends to be part of a new lively social scene.

For strong swimmers, you may also be interested in open water swimming in rivers, lakes and even the sea. Open water swimming can be great fun, but it is also challenging so make sure that you avoid swimming alone and that you are competent enough before you try. You should also plan your swim with care and make sure that you know the currents of the water well.