This post first appeared on Slimming World - Motivation. READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE
Upping your activity levels alongside following our Food Optimising plan is a great way to give your weight loss and your wellbeing a boost. Anything that gets you a bit out of breath and your heart beating faster can bring health benefits that can transform how you feel – so we call it Body Magic!
The beauty of Body Magic is that there’s something for every level of ability and fitness. If you’re just starting out, go slowly by adding gentle activity to your day. Once you feel more confident and comfortable, step it up a gear with something more challenging. Our head office fitness coach, Lorraine, is here to help you find the right Body Magic activity for you with this series of fantastic fit tips. This week, we’re dipping our toe into the what, why, where, when and how of swimming!
What: Swimming needs very little introduction! It’s an activity open to everyone, whatever your age, size or fitness level. If you can’t swim, it’s never too late to learn, as many pools offer swimming lessons for adults, on a one-to-one basis.
Top tip: Swimming is especially good for people with joint or mobility problems, as the water supports up to 90% of your body weight.
Why: There are so many health and fitness benefits to swimming – it really is brilliant Body Magic. It…
- burns energy (more than walking for the same amount of time!)
- helps tone the body and build strength
- can help to reduce stress
- works every major muscle group
- can give a great cardio workout
- can help improve coordination, balance, posture and flexibility
It can even help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease!
Top tip: Vary your strokes to get the best full-body benefits:
- breaststroke really works the legs
- upper back and abdominals get a good workout from backstroke
- front crawl works the shoulders and arms
- butterfly gives a great full-body workout for advanced swimmers!
Slimming World member Ruby found that swimming helped with the symptoms of fibromyalgia and scoliosis.
“Swimming improved my fitness, supported my weight loss and helped me manage my pain, so I didn’t feel the need to comfort myself with food.”
Where: The obvious choice is a local pool. Many council-run leisure centres boast swimming pools – and you’ll also find private pools, often as part of a gym complex. You can use Poolfinder or Swim Ireland to find your nearest. Other options include open pools (lidos) and open water swimming in rivers, lakes or the sea, although it goes without saying that only very confident swimmers should take a swim on the wild side!
Top tip: If wild swimming sounds up your street, the safest bet is to join a wild swimming club and choose somewhere that has an area sectioned off for safer wild swimming.
Jodie (@jodie_sw_consultant) looks exhilarated after swimming an open-water course.
“It was beautiful swimming tonight but I was super glad for my fluffy socks when I got out! I’ve definitely earned my sleep and nailed my Body Magic, too!”
When: Most pools are open from early morning until late at night, giving you lots of leeway to find a time that works for you. It’s not advisable to swim on a full stomach, so timing your swims before mealtimes will mean you can quickly satisfy the appetite you’ve just worked up.
Top tip: If you’re worried about swimming – or being in swimwear – in front of others, call the pool to find out the quieter times (go really early morning and you may find you have the pool to yourself!). Many pools also offer same-sex swimming sessions.
How: One of the great things about swimming is that you don’t need any fancy equipment – all you really need is water (although, don’t forget the swimwear!). There’s a variety of different strokes to choose from, and you might also find swim-based fitness classes such as aqua fitness, aqua jogging, aqua stretch, aqua dance or aqua Zumba. Classes are a fun way to try a type of exercise while minimising the impact on your joints – the resistance of the water slows the pace but can actually increase the benefits of the workout.
Remember, no one can see you in the water. If you’re worried about the walk from the changing rooms, take your towel or a towelling dressing gown to the side of the pool. Many pools have hooks, rails or spectator chairs, so you can leave your towel close by (check before you book).
Top tip: Choosing swimwear that you feel comfortable in can also help with any waterside worries. You’ll find a wide variety of flattering, comfortable swimwear in the shops and online – with some ranges that include tankinis, t-shirts, long-sleeve tops, skirts, shorts, leggings and all-in-ones.
Hitting her slimming goals gave Zoe (@swgoldenzoe) the confidence to wear her one-piece while taking a seaside dip with friends.
“Having the best day. I would never have worn a swimming costume on the beach before I lost 4st! Slimming World has given me a whole new life full of a lot more confidence!”
Covid-19: What to expect?
Thanks for those tips, Lorraine! Of course, many readers will be wondering how Covid-19 procedures may have changed the swimming experience. As my local pool has now reopened (one in four public pools currently remain closed, so do call ahead before you dig out that swimsuit), I went along to check what safety measures are in place.
First, I had to go online and book my slot. Many public pools are running a reduced programme, with restricted numbers for the pool and changing rooms, so booking is essential. My local leisure centre is offering 45-minute swimming sessions, with 30-minute ‘clean downs’ in between. The changing rooms, lockers and showers are open, however, to minimise time spent in the changing area I was asked to arrive with my swimwear on underneath my clothes (or a dressing gown, if you’re brave enough to do the dash from the car!).
Only lane swimming is available at the moment (so no splash sessions for kids). There are slow and fast lanes to choose between, which are 4m in width to allow for distancing – obviously you can’t wear a mask in the water so the 2m rule applies. Swimming lessons for both adults and children have also restarted, again, with limited numbers and with distancing in place.
Additional safety measures included one-way walkways and sanitising stations. Oh, and the hairdryers were out of action too.
I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed my swimming sessions. I felt safe and the safety measures didn’t spoil the experience. If anything, it was more pleasant, as the pool was much less busy than I’d usually expect – now would actually be a great time to try swimming if you have worries about feeling self-conscious in a crowded pool.
If you’re thinking about giving swimming a go, it’s worth calling your local pool to find out how they’re approaching Covid-safe swimming. My experience went swimmingly and I’m excited to have the facility open again – Roxanne, blog editor
Slimming World real-life groups are now reopening, and they’re the perfect place to find out more about Body Magic and the Slimming World eating plan, Food Optimising. You might even find yourself a swimming buddy!
Our best-ever offer for new and existing members:
When you commit to a six-week Countdown before 10th October 2020, you’ll receive a FREE copy of our new recipe book, Take 5, Second Helpings, and get six weeks for the price of five. Contact your local Consultant to book your place and bag your freebies!
We’re also offering £20-off membership packages for our digital-only service, Slimming World Online. Find out more here.