I used to run for exercise. In my mid-20s I was up to 10 miles a day for a while. I loved it. But I had to stop about 10 years ago because of back problems that were aggravated by running. Then I moved into biking and walking, but about 2 years ago I developed a condition with my feet called peripheral neuropathy that makes walking and wearing shoes very painful. Now I don’t exercise at all.
So I am thinking about taking up swimming, but for me, other than swimming in a lake where you can swim out to a raft or something, I find swimming very boring. Plus most pools are so short you are constantly turning.
So my question is this? If you swim for exercise, where do you find a good place to swim? What size pool? Where can you find longer pools? How do you keep yourself occupied while swimming (I always get so bored)? What can I expect to pay for a place to swim? Can I find a good pool year round?
Basically any information about swimming for exercise would be welcome.
I used to swim five days a week, but alas, I currently have no pool I can get to I highly recommend it for building strength and endurance (and no joint stress!)
But resign yourself to being bored; I love swimming, but it is definitely not exciting. At best it can be sort of meditative. Just kind of turn your brain off, feel the water and go back and forth, back and forth… There are swim radios – Speedo makes one – but I’ve heard they have a tendency to short out. The technology may have improved, though.
If you swim at an indoor public pool it’ll be available year-round, and it shouldn’t cost more than a couple of bucks per session, probably less. Many places have passes with a small discount if you swim frequently. Your Parks & Recreation Department should be able to direct you.
The usual protocol in a public pool is to have designated lap swimming hours or roped-off lanes (so you won’t be plowing into water exercisers and people who are swimming for fun). Lap swimming is usually forbidden during “free swim” hours, also because of the risk of running into people. The question to ask when you call is, “What are your adult lap swimming hours?”
Some places divide the lap lanes into slow, medium and fast, but if you can swim steadily you shouldn’t have any problem even if they don’t have lane speeds. There’s different etiquette in different pools about crossing lanes to reach the ladder, passing slower swimmers, etc.; you’ll see what people are doing pretty quickly.
For size, if the pool isn’t at least Olympic size, don’t bother; you’ll find yourself having to turn continually. A pool with an ozone filter is better than a chlorinated one if you swim a lot.
I do run on, don’t I? Anyway, I encourage you to take up swimming – it’s great, no-impact exercise. Good luck!
Thank you for all your good info Catrandom. I will use your recommendations. Thanks.
The trouble with swimming for exercise is the tendency to slow down and float.
Swimming is excellent for keeping in shape, that is providing you do it right. And that means swim laps. I used to work out at one place where the people would vigorously swim a lap and then spend the next 30 minutes floating around on their backs.
But if you are dedicated to it, swimming is far easier on the body than running and when done correctly just as good.
How about water aerobics?
I hadn’t thought of water aerobics. Thanks Markxxx. I will check that out too.
i work at a couple pools. and i’ve swam for most of my life
it really is a very boring but very healthy thing to do. if you actually work at it and dont swim a lap and then take a 15 minute breather, which is what most of the lap swimmers at the pools i lifeguard do.
i really dont see what the problem w/ turning is but if you can find an olympic sized pool you’ll turn 50% less than in a normal pool.
as for curing the boredom, about the only thing you can do is bring a friend along to talk with.
dont have any friends?
me neither, will you be my friend?
I’ve been swimming for years. I got into swimming because I have chronic problems with my feet and back. It is wonderful exercise, with very little stress on the body. Lap swimming can be boring (especially if you do it every day), and I usually vary my stroke every couple of laps to keep myself entertained.
If lap swimming bores you, I would definately look into other aquatic exercise programs. The YMCA I go to has an indoor pool, and in addition to lap and free swiming, they also offer a variety of aquatic fitness classes including areobics (shallow and deep water), boxing, yoga, and water walking (recommended for the elderly or people with severe health problems). Classes are usually a wide mix of ages and fitness levels, and can be a lot of fun (especially if the instructor is good). They are also usually done to music, which makes the sessions seem to go much faster (at least to me).
For the last couple of years, I have taken various water fitness classes 2 days a week (usually tuesday and thursday), usually 2 classes back to back, for a total of 90 minutes. And I lap swim 3 days a week (usually MWF)for about an hour a session. I have a lot of fun!
P.S. I NEVER float when lap swimming… my idea of a rest lap is to use a kick board for a lap or two.
Another swimmer checking in. I, too, have a bad lower back and can’t run because of all of the pounding. Swimming, spinning, and weight training are all part of my program now and I like to vary my routines.
As was pointed out earlier, one way to counteract the boredom is to sort of “embrace” it (don’t mean to sound flaky here). I find the repetition relaxing and can completely get into the glide through the water, the stroke, the turn. Zoning out, whether on a bike, treadmill, or pool has really helped my mental state. OK mind, time to turn you off - I’m going swimming.
I belong to a Y and we have an Olympic-sized indoor pool with lap lanes.
Good luck and, most importantly for the success of any excercise program - have fun!
Wait - you used to run and you think swimming is boring? I can’t think of anything more boring than running pointlessly - if I’m being chased by a boogieman, or chainsaw killer, sure, I’d run, but as excercise it it more destructive - as you yourself pointed out - than helpful or interesting.
I swim and have been doing so since I was four. If your brain works it need not bore you. You can think all sorts of thinks through while you swim. I’ve plotted whole books, rerun movies, cogitated the whys and wherefores of all sorts of things. It’s very contemplative, it can be very restful mentally even if you are working your body. And once you finish your laps you can go play in the deep end or cannonball off the high dive…
IN the ocean along with the seals, otters, whales & fish. Cold though. 55.
I used to swim for exercise a lot.
You can count me among the people who find it meditative. I found that the key to avoiding boredom is to not stop at all between laps. That way, I could “get into the zone.”
You need to find an Olympic-size pool. There are actually 2 sizes commonly referred to as “Olympic.” A 50-yard pool is a true Olympic size–that’s what they use in the Olympics. They are sort of hard to come by here in the Northeast, because they are really gigantic, and consequently require a gigantic building to put them in. Full-size Olympics are supposed to be easier to find in Florida, though, because outdoor pools can be used year-round. Half-Olympics (25 yards) are a whole lot more common. Y’s usually have them. Or you might be able to use the gym at the local college. The turns between laps are a good part of the workout.
Before you shell out money to join a club, make sure you visit the pool during the time that you would want to swim to make sure that it is not overcrowded. It makes a big difference if you do not have to share a lane with seven people.
You might consider taking a swim class. I took one in college, even though I was already a very good swimmer. I learned how to breathe bilaterally and a better way to turn and I improved my stroke immensely. Plus it was fun. Another advantage of taking a class is that it “forces” you to go to the pool.
Make sure you get goggles that fit. I have always found cheap goggles to be better than expensive ones. I like the basic $9 ones the best. Try them on before you buy. You might like to use ear plugs too.
Good luck and tell us how it goes.
p.s. What about taking up sea kayaking? You don’t have to wear shoes at all when you do that. There are lots of wonderful places to go in and around Florida.
Let me throw my two cents in on the meditative front. I swim almost every morning before work…took it up after I blew out my ankle running. It’s extrememly peaceful and gives me time to plan out my work day. Plus, the pool I belong to limits swimmers to 2 per lane, so you don’t have to swim in self defense.
As for keeping it from being boring…that’s easy. Just mix it up. You don’t have to do lap after lap of freestyle, throw in some other strokes too. Do some easy repeats or stroke drills. Go check out some back issues of Swimmer magazine (they must have a website too) and you’ll find more drills than you need.
Another swimming checking in. Prior to marriage, I swam alot ( 1-3 miles a day). I found it very meditative and I would alternate strokes to break up the monotony.
Then I moved away from that pool and it’s been nearly 7 years. I begged and wished on my lucky star for a community pool to be built and last fall one opened up. I went alot when I was pregnant and loved it. Now with two kids, I’m too pooped in the morning to get up at 5am to swim and at night, after my hsuband gets home, it’s the last thing from my mind after sex
I’m sure after the kids are older, I’ll get back into it.
One other note, is that I had the same pair of cheap goggles for nearly five years. They worked great, but due to age, they had run their course. I bought a pair of cheap ones again, and they don’t fit the same and fog up. I hate fogging. when I get back into the rythm of the water again, I will pay the extra money for anti fog lenses.
Chalk me up as another swimmer.
In High School I was on a swim team and in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. Unfortunately, an accident with a lane line sidelined me for six weeks, and I never got back into it. (Nothing too serious, really).
I joined a gym without a pool and had the worst time getting myself to go. Ended up dropping my membership, rather than spend the money.
I recently joined a local gym that has a lap (25m) pool, and go almost every day. When I was exercising on the bikes/treadmills/weight machines I hated every minute of it, and always felt exhausted and crabby after a workout.
After swimming, I feel totally refreshed and have this amazing excess of energy. So much so that my roommate sent me out of the apartment one Saturday and told me not to come back until I was less hyperkinetic. Well, okay, we went to the mall together, but still.
I swim to keep from drowning.
I have been a lifeguard/aquatic fitness instructor/swimmer for the past six years. I have seen MANY people use swimming as thier primary method of exercise, but it can be very monotonus. A couple of notes about aquatic fitness:
Get a good instructor. Ask your instructor about his/her qualifications and experience.
Don’t rely on the motions to get a good workout. You have to use the resistance and PUSH yourself.
Another thought is underwater hockey. It is fun and very like hockey, but easy on the joints. It is played with a snorkel and you move the puck on the bottom of the pool. It is getting big in rural areas I know.
Hope that helps and good luck. I think it is great you are doing whatever it takes to look after yourself and stay in shape!
As I get older Im trying to surf longer & longer. So far at 40+ can do About 5.5 hours straight, never touch bottom or beach. Compared to just 2 hours when I was 25. I hope to do more when the surf comes in later this fall.
I once calculated that as about 5 miles of swimming based on the number of waves I got per hour (40-60) & the distance.
One more swimmer.
Yeah, it’s damn boring. That’s one of the things I like about it. I can think about other things; like work, or just daydreams. I’m not a very competitive person, and it’s something I can do alone, at my own pace. I don’t understand people who come to the pool, do a lap every ten minutes or so, and spend the rest of the time chatting with their friends in the shallow end. You can talk on dry land! Swim or get the heck out of my way! In that it’s solitary, it’s like running, I suppose, but without sweat, which is another thing I like about it. On a hot day you can go and workout and leave feeling cool and refreshed instead of even hotter.
I definitely recommend that you find an Olympic size pool. Constantly having to turn in the “kiddie” pool is maddening. I don’t know what climate you’re in, but indoor is also better, 'cause you can’t talk yourself out of going because of the weather, and they have less chlorine. Check the (YM/YW)CA, or look under “swimming pools” and “clubs” in the Yellow Pages.
I can’t swim. I’m afraid of water.
Some great advice here concerning laps, checking out the local Y, checking out the olympic pool during the hours you want to use it, etc.
I need to exercise to burn up those *#&@^%% sugars; laps can be made more interesting by using different strokes. A couple of things that have not been mentioned so far: I also just tread water for long periods of time and there are lots of non lap swimming things to do in the pool such as water aerobics, special fins and handfins, rope swimming that can add variety to your pool time.
I also find swimming a chance to think things out or just zone out.