Swimming is a great form of all-round exercise. It's ideal if you want to be more active and stay healthy, whatever your age or ability. Regular swimming can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control. Swimming is a lifelong skill that could save a life. If you can't swim, it's never too late to learn. Most pools cater for a variety of tastes and abilities, such as women-only classes, parent and toddler groups, and lessons for different age groups.
Before you start
Don't worry if you're afraid of the water or panic when you think about the deep end. Beginners' lessons focus on building confidence in the water. A swimming costume is all you need. Make sure your swimwear is comfortable and fits properly.
If you wish to cover up, most pools allow you to wear whatever swimwear you like, within reason, such as leggings or a close-fitting, long-sleeved T-shirt.
Wearing a pair of goggles is a good idea to avoid the stinging sensation caused by chlorine in the water and to see where you're going under water. For most people, swimming is a safe and effective form of exercise. If you're worried about an existing health condition, see your GP before you start swimming.
The best place to get started is at your local pool. You'll find information on classes for different age groups and levels, women-only sessions, timetables and prices. Most pools offer adult-only beginners' lessons, which focus on building water confidence and improving your stroke.
If you're unsure about starting lessons, ask if you can watch a class or two to get a better idea if it's for you, or ask to speak with one of the teachers. A 30-minute session of moderate to vigorous-intensity activity at the pool on one or more days a week will count towards your recommended weekly activity target.
Make it a habit
Try to set aside time every week to go to the pool, before or after work or on weekends. Write it in a diary so it becomes a permanent fixture in your weekly schedule. Consider getting an annual swim pass. This will help you save money and encourage you to go more often.
Mix it up
The swimming pool makes a great playground and a great gym, even for non-swimmers, with activities such as aquafit. However, learning to swim will introduce you to a whole new world of water-based activities in the pool and beyond.
Open water swimming
For competent swimmers there is a world of swimming opportunities beyond the pool, such as rivers, lakes and the sea. Open water swimming can be great fun so long as you take the necessary safety precautions.
Avoid swimming alone. Plan your swim: check the water temperature, entry and exit points, currents and tides (where relevant), weather conditions and water cleanliness.
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