Swimming: Winter training alternatives

At this time of year when it’s dark and the rain seems never ending, generating enough motivation to go for a run is a struggle even for the best of us. Dragging yourself out into the rain could have a negative affect on your motivation. What’s the best thing to do? Break the cycle, change your routine and introduce another form of exercise to keep to you motivated – swimming!

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise and suitable for someone looking to start leading a more healthy lifestyle, as well as people who take part in exercise regularly. I personally got back into swimming through signing up for my first triathlon, I was getting tired of ‘pounding the pavement’ so this added some variety to my training as well as improved my strength and endurance.

There are a number of benefits to swimming, which I will run through below:

  1. Cardiovascular Fitness: First and foremost swimming is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness. Whatever stroke you use your heart rate will be high and you can regulate this through your pace. You will also have to develop a breathing pattern to maximise your exertion, this is a technique that can be transferred through to running and other forms of exercise.
  2. Muscle Strength: Swimming does not just benefit your cardiovascular system, it can also improve your muscle strength. The water creates a resistance, which you have to pull yourself through. Swimming regularly will therefore develop all round muscle strength as well as tone your muscles.
  3. Low Impact: Because you are supported by the water when swimming it makes it a very low impact form of training. This puts a lot less stress on you body, reducing the risk of injury. It is also a great form of exercise for anyone recovering from an injury because of the low impact.
  4. All Body Workout: When swimming, every major muscle group is engaged. This makes it a very beneficial exercise to any athlete or recreational exerciser.

swimming lanes

Tips:

  • If it’s been a while since you last swam invest in some basic lessons. Performing the strokes correctly will allow you to be more efficient in the water meaning you can train for longer, whilst reducing the risk of injury.
  • Start slowly; set yourself targets of number of lengths or overall distance. Having structure will make your training more measurable and therefore more rewarding!
  • Stroke selection; use a stroke that you can perform comfortably and feel confident with. From here you can progress onto other strokes by gradually integrating them. Using a variety of strokes within your training will hit more muscle groups and allow you to train longer.
  • Keep hydrated! ‘Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink’. It might feel like you’re not sweating or not thirsty but you will become dehydrated if you do not drink during your session. Hydration is key to exercise, poor hydration will lead to you becoming fatigued more quickly.

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