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Health > Keeping Fit > Fitness And Good Looks


Next time you go swimming – and in this country it’s bound to be soon – test your fitness level after the first bout of three to five laps.

Get straight out of the pool, wait for 30 seconds then measure your pulse rate for 15 seconds. Continue to do this each day and if you see the pulse rate declining, then you know you are getting fitter.

Naturally it’s not going to fall beyond a certain level – so when the heartbeat evens out you know you are fit. It’s a simple way of watching your own fitness.

Swimming advocates are everywhere. Lend one your ear for a few minutes and soon you will be thrashing through the surf, down the river or in the neighbours pool.

Swimming is one sport that benefits most muscles in the body – arms, legs, neck, feet, stomach – plus you are forced to breathe properly and the heart rate is increased. It all adds up to a fitter you … something everyone wants.

Champions love the way swimming relieves fatigue. They know all the benefits of the sport, not surprising as they usually start swimming early.

She is a confident authority on swimming, and has good reasons why we should take up swimming. “Swimming can be adapted to suit a person of any age. For some children it can begin at two months old (when they start them at the swimming school). Older people enjoy the pleasant feeling of buoyancy which brings relief to aches and pains in the body.”

Swimming makes you feel better. This makes you an easier person to be with and that in turn makes other people happier. You are improving the quality of life for everybody when you feel well and know you are well.

Studies show that swimming can relieve tension. Tension is caused by worry and any swimmer will tell you that worrying and swimming are impossible to do at the same time. Worry will lead to tension which shows up as fatigue, an inability to sleep well, over-eating, aches and pains.

If the worry continues the next step is to depression. But you can recognize worry and it can be arrested with slow, easy swimming each day.


When you run, play squash, jog or do any athletics there is a marked strain on the joints, especially on the knees. This leads to an inevitable breakdown in the joints.

However, when you swim there is no pressure on the body. Quite the reverse. The experience of flotation means the constant pressure applied to the spine whether sitting, standing or running or whatever you are doing, is instantly removed.

If you can’t swim when you get into the water you will naturally fall into a type of side roll, kicking your legs in a scissors action and using your arms to pull you through the water in the early 1900s this used to be the popular style for racing it no longer is, but it’s a natural position for the body to float in the water.

Unlike playing squash or athletics there is no sudden stop – start – chase routine when you swim. It can be moderate and easy or very fast. A slower pace suits an older person – you can’t achieve this when you run.

Swimming is one of those things that you can’t live without once it’s part of your life. Butterfly is very, very hard with lots of stress on the stomach muscles, on the other hand I find breaststroke too slow for me – I’d rather get in there and thrash off to the other end.”

Experts think the concentration you give to swimming takes away your worries, relaxes you.

It works because first, swimming changes your routine. Monotonous work causes fatigue, and almost any work causes tiredness. Swimming brings you into another world, gives you mental release, induces an awareness of the body’s need to work too.

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