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Planning Retirement Online

Making a splash!                                           July 2010  

Making a splash!

swimmingAt last it is summer, and all across Europe and indeed on the beaches and in the swimming pools throughout the UK, people are enjoying the healthy fun of swimming.

For people over 50 swimming is the perfect exercise. If you haven’t undertaken regular vigorous exercise for most of your life, turning 50 or 60 or 70 is not the time to rush into a high impact exercise programme. Running, tennis – many popular activities can have a detrimental impact on the bones, joints and muscles of people over 50 but swimming is ideal as it allows you to tone and strengthen the body in a totally supported way.

In fact, swimming really is one of the best exercises for people in or facing retirement. The human body is around the same density as water, so it is easily supported. This means that when you exercise there is far less stress placed on the joints and bones. Also swimming enables you to use muscles and move in a different way from when you are doing normal exercise.

Swimming has a huge number of benefits. It certainly improves cardiovascular conditioning, it also improves flexibility and muscle strength. There are other benefits that are not so readily apparent -swimming improves posture and also can improve your physical appearance due to muscle toning. And that is without any benefits that might also occur if you swim enough to lose weight. The exercise of swimming can also help reduce stress. This is because swimming allows more oxygen to flow to your muscles and forces you to regulate your breathing - in fact the benefits of getting into water just go on and on.

Today swimming is easier than ever before – and often cheaper. Many councils run free swim sessions for over 60 year olds in their local pools, and some even offer a free lesson or activity with an instructor.

Local gyms and sports clubs often offer specially reduced fees for mature age groups and also specially reduced rates if you only want to use the swimming pool. Often there will also be special rates for morning or midday sessions when general activity is less.

If you have never learned to swim, then it is worth the investment of paying for a private instructor for a few lessons or joining a learn to swim class. The achievement when you finally take your feet off the bottom and manage a widthis well worth all the effort.

If swimming laps aren’t really of much interest, there are so many other things you can do in water. Just trying to walk or run through waist deep water is tremendous exercise and most pools offer regular aqua fit, aqua gym and other water based exercise classes which can offer benefits for fitness and also become fun social occasions.

Of course sometimes swimming can be difficult; if you have inner-ear problems for instance, then you should check with your doctor before heading for the water. Also, be aware there can be restrictions at various pools, some now say you have to wear a swimming cap mainly to protect the filters from becoming clogged up with hair.

Once you include a regular swimming programme in your timetable, you may find you become hooked. If so, you can progress into all sorts of exciting areas. Masters and senior age group swimming is well established in the UK and cover a number of great competitions and events for all age groups – yes, there are even over 100-years-old who take part in swimming events. In the Masters programme, there is a specific 100 -104 age group! The objectives of these senior events are better health and friendship as much as competitive times, although they do also run world championships as well as fun local events.

Or you can migrate from straight swimming into senior events in diving, synchronised swimming or even water polo. Really, swimming can offer an enormous range of possibilities to help keep you fit and also entertain you throughout all your senior years. (see Masters)




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