Last week I did something I rarely do. I took my own advice. It was quite illuminating. I found it’s much easier to give advice than to take it.
You know how I’m always telling people to mix things up, that when it comes to exercise variety is a critical ingredient. Trying different exercises not only works different muscles in different ways it also keeps your metabolism from getting lazy.
So, last week I went swimming. I haven’t done that in years. Sure I’ve mucked around in pools on vacation but it’s been at least 5 years since I got into a pool to do laps. And boy did it show.
After less than 25 minutes I looked like one of those bedraggled runners at the end of a long, exhausting marathon, staggering, bandy-legged towards the finish line, their only goal just to get there. At least, that’s how it felt.
I was surprised how hard it was, but I shouldn’t have been. Swimming is one of the most complete exercises you can do, working every muscle group, all at the same time. You arms and your legs and your core and your hips and back are all working, hopefully together, to power you through the water. So, it’s no wonder my heart and lungs were pounding and pumping like crazy.
Swimming is a great cardiovascular workout. But it’s also good because, unlike most of the other sports I do, this one stretches you out and doesn’t put a huge amount of strain on your joints. In squash or running you are pounding down on your muscles. In swimming you are stretching them out so that by the end - once you have caught your breath - you feel really great.
So, if you’ve been running a lot and your knees or joints are beginning to feel the strain of it, skip doing laps around the track and try a few laps in the pool. It will make a terrific change of pace and give your body a bit of a break too.
I don’t know if the experience will make me want to take my own advice more often, but it certainly makes me want to swim more often.