As I bought my entry ticket from a cold looking lady behind the counter, who was wearing a big puffer jacket and gloves, I considered going home back to my warm bed! But then I looked at the sign on the wall, updated just an hour ago, clearly stating that the outside pool is 27.7 Degrees Celsius. I pushed through the gate, and from there habit kicked in. I have the place I always leave my bag, I wear my thongs right up to the edge and by that point there is no turning back. I inch my way down the ladder rungs and smile at the other Swimmers. We all smile in winter, because it is so much warmer in the pool than it is outside in the cold solstice depths of Melbourne’s morning. We also smile because we have a lane to ourselves! It seems ludicrous that such phenomenal facilities can be subsidised by our city council! Where else in the world could you swim in a public 50 m pool within a few kilometers of the CBD for $6.50!
The Australian Bureau of Statistics have released a study of Australian’s participation in sport ( http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4177.0 ). They found that participation “in all months of the year” in jogging and running (73%) and weight training (70%) was particularly high, as was participation in aerobics, fitness and gym activities (65%) and cycling (66%). But swimming was the activity that people were least likely to have participated in throughout the year (39%).
As a Physio I find Swimming is a sport that I am often suggesting to Patients who are eager to stay active whilst carrying a lower limb injury or an injury that is sensitive to load. And I find it is a polarising suggestion, it is either snapped up with enthusiasm and discussions on stroke and distance or out rightly rejected. When it is rejected I need to sometimes get creative with my exercise suggestions and Physiotherapist lead Pilates often gets a mention, because we individually create a program for each of our patients according to their needs and we are good at not aggravating injuries.
But for people who are not carrying an injury, my best advice is to mix it up. Differing the type of exercise you do reduces the chances of developing overuse injuries and often leaves you with more functionally useful strength. Take every opportunity that presents to move your body, every way, every day!