Working out at lunchtime is no leisurely event. Dashing five blocks to the gym, changing out of many layers of winter gear into gym clothes and then having to shower and reverse the process when I’m finished – let’s just say pulling on nylon stockings when you’re still sweating is not the high point of my day.
That’s why at least once a week I swim laps. I picked my gym because it had a small lap pool, and I have always wanted to include this low-impact, full body workout in my regular routine. I have several friends who compete in triathlons and they swear by the improvements in muscle tone, strength and endurance brought on my regular swimming.
All that aside, swimming at lunchtime is a fast way to burn mega calories, and…here’s the best part….no sweat factor! Sure, it’s a little tough to jump in the water in the dead of winter, but once I’m in, I lose all track of time and completely enjoy my workout.
Even though I was running and felt like I was in decent shape when I started swimming, I was a total beginner. I only took basic lessons as a kid and never returned to swimming other than splashing with the kids in the shallow end and a pre-natal exercise class during my last pregnancy.
When I first started swimming, I swam laps using a variety of strokes and swam freestyle using a pull buoy and a kickboard to isolate both upper and lower body. Week by week, I was able to lose the props, increase my freestyle strokes, reduce the use of breast, side and back strokes and take fewer breaks between laps. I found a few tips online about breathing techniques and ways to improve my form, and now I am able to swim continuously as long as my lunch break allows!
Swimming has been a great addition to my fitness regimen and it has improved my running speed as well. Check out your local gyms, recreation departments and YMCAs for an indoor lap pool near you. You won’t believe the difference it will make to your mental and physical well-being!