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Swimming for Your Family's Health and Fitness

Posted Aug 25 2008 3:19pm

This morning we took the boys to their swimming lessons. It dawned on me that discussing swimming as an ideal family and solo exercise would make a great post for today.

Swimming is an activity that you can enjoy at any age. Babies as young as 6 months old can join a swim program with a parent or guardian and begin to feel comfortable in the water at a very young age. After all, we spend almost ten months floating in amniotic fluid, so in essence we've come from water. And, this you can see with the very young.

While swimming with my youngest Sebastien (2 yrs old) in his Guardian Swim class this morning, I really noticed something. It seemed that the younger the child, the more he or she was enjoying the lesson from the "get go." They just seemed to be "born to swim." They were the first ones to put their faces in the water and the ones least bothered by going under water.

Now, of course people of all ages can enjoy swimming as a leisure activity and can take swimming lessons and aquatic programs of all types. The activity you choose will depend on your level of fitness, any mobility issues you may have, and your health and fitness goals.

As an avid swimmer from a very young age, a swimming/aquatics instructor and lifeguard for many years, I can tell you that it is never too late to start. I have taught children and adults of all ages, from 6 months old to the very elderly. If it is possible for you, my advice is to get your kids into a program by the age of 4 so that they may keep up with their peers. If you are starting later, you can choose a private or semi-private program so that your children can have individual attention. They are much less likely to feel out of place in a class with children much younger then themselves, and they are much more likely to catch up quickly.

Here's where the benefits of swimming come in. Not only is swimming great for your heart and your cardiovascular conditioning, but it is a great "family" activity that you can do all year long. If you haven't been swimming in years or have never learned to swim, than you don't know what you're missing. It is truly a fabulous feeling to be buoyant in the water, it's as though you are "floating". As your strength builds, so will your confidence and so will your endurance and physical conditioning. Your children and grand-children will love to participate along with you as well, but you can also choose to go for a swim or take a swimming or aquatics class just for you. As you focus on your breathing or your strokes or your swim rhythm, you'll quickly notice that swimming will alleviate a great deal of stress. That's a great side benefit too.

One last note about swimming lessons for the whole family. Simply put, it is absolutely a necessity to learn to swim. There are just too many dangers that exist if you ever find yourself near water. From lakes, to beach vacations near the ocean, to campgrounds, to the watering hole on your Father's farm, you and your children must be prepared. Every summer there is an incident of a young child wondering off from the family picnic and later found drowned. Those are the tragedies you can avoid. Once you or your child has mastered the back float, you are well on your way to avoiding such an event. So take heed.

Now as you can tell, I am a huge proponent of learning to swim for the sake of safety, for the sake of fitness, for the sake of health and wellness, and for the sake of family togetherness. But I am also an advocate of swimming for young children because it can lead to a phenomenal leadership experience should they choose to become instructors and lifeguards. And it generally pays well too.

So, that's it. Have a great night and a great day tomorrow.

"Healthy. Fit. Living Fully." for you and your family.

Sandy Huard, President, Women's Health Supply International

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