For the final in our January health trinity we have another Olympic favourite- Swimming!
Throughout both the Olympics and Paralympics one of the most popular events worldwide was swimming. Especially watching Jacqueline Freney of Australia tear through the water and win eight Paralympic gold medals, or Katie Ledecky to come through so young and grab the Olympic gold for the 800m. Their dedication to their sport made them stand out as human beings who had pushed themselves to excellence. You don’t have to be an Olympian to achieve excellence or go beyond the expected through swimming. Look at David Walliams charity swimming extraordinary, who swam a monstrous 140 miles, the length of the Thames for Sport Relief. Against the cold, the current and the who-knows-what flowing in the water of the Thames, David battled through and raised £2,501,240.
But, it’s January, it’s cold and it’s starting to snow. Exercise maybe something you’ve been beating to the back of your mind with a stick. Jogging is difficult to commit to at this time of year, as is cycling, I get it, they’re both outside. Swimming isn’t! Unless you’re going to try pulling a Walliams, in which case I would strongly advise you reconsider. You would probably die. No, I’m talking about going down to your local swimming baths and doing a few lengths. Remember how fun it was in primary school when you used to go every week with your class? Remember how proud you were getting your Tony the Tiger badges, 5m, 20m, 50m and 200m if you were really hardcore. Whether this nostalgia is before or after your time, everyone has fond memories of either easing themselves in a toe at a time of cannon balling into a swimming pool. Relive it.
Someone who didn’t mind getting their feet wet, and facing the cold, last December were the brave swimmers who raised money for Crisis, swimming a series of races in Brockwell Park Lido. Comedian Jo Brand hosted the event that featured a mass 50 m race and a 1 Km marathon in the outdoor pool, with spectators cheering the contestants on and donating huge sums to the charity coffers, all in aid of Crisis at Christmas, providing homes and care to the London homeless this Christmas.
Brockwell Park,(Brixton Beach) is one of London few remaining Lido’s. These open air pools provided exciting places to visit during the English Summer, before the advent of Package. A visit to the Lido was one of the few ways a resident of inner London could laze by the pool trying to get a Californian tan or even have a swim in the outdoors. I think I’ll be waiting until the summer until I test the water at Brockwell Park however!
Swimming is great for you, mentally and physically. It can reduce the risk of diabetes, lower cholesterol and lessen the severity of asthma symptoms. Like all the other forms of exercise mentioned before it’s great for your mental well being, releasing endorphins to improve your mood and increasing blood flow to the brain causing increased performance.
Swimming will tone and strengthen your muscles like no other form of exercise. It engages your whole body, muscles that you wouldn’t even think about. Water is several times denser than air so every movement is met with more resistance, pushing your body harder. For similar reasons it improves flexibility with its wide range of movements, from wide arm circles to hips working when kicking.
And it improves your hearts health as well. Since the heart is a muscle too, the intensified pumping during aerobic exercise, if done regularly, will improve how strong it is.
So there you have it, the omega to our new year’s health trinity.
Get on your bike, jog on or take the plunge!
By Natasha Dujon
Photography copyright of Tuareg Productions Ltd.