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Swimming through the Menopause – Seven Physical And Mental Health Benefits of Hitting The Pool

stainless steel pool ladder

Swimming is a great way to add variety to your exercise routine and as long as you choose your swim time wisely, i.e. during the child free times, it can be a relaxing way to reap physical and mental health benefits which can help you cope with those menopausal challenges.  Be aware though that swimming is not a weight bearing or strength training exercise so to prevent or fight osteoporosis, you should not make it the sole workout that you do.

  1. Swimming can give you a good cardio workout depending upon the type of stroke you use.  The crawl (also known as freestyle) will burn the most calories but it isn’t very relaxing to whip up and down the pool so mix it up with breaststroke and backstroke.  Breaststroke is probably the most relaxing and can still burn around 200 calories per half hour if you speed it up a bit.  Backstroke is best for posture and working the abs. I’m not going to suggest the butterfly stroke because it’s really annoying for everyone else in the pool!
  2. It gives you a full body workout regardless of the stroke you do. It also makes your body work harder so 30 minutes in the pool is equivalent to 45 minutes in the gym.
  3. It releases endorphins – the feel good hormones in your brain. This brings about a sense of positivity and well-being. Regardless of how faffy you find it to get your swimming gear together and get your cossie on you won’t regret it afterwards. You will always be glad that you took the plunge.
  4. Swimming reduces stress and anxiety. As we go through the menopause our stress levels can reach stratospheric proportions – not surprising when you consider all the changes that are taking place in our bodies along the external challenges that many of us also have to deal with. I know from first-hand experience that swimming is an almost instant stress reliever -just as long as you don’t go at family swim time which can have the opposite effect.
  5. It supports up to 90 per cent of the body’s weight so those menopausal joint aches and pains will melt away whilst you’re in the water.
  6. If the menopause is making you sweat, swimming is the ideal exercise; you will never feel sweaty swimming because the water constantly cools you down.
  7. It boosts brain health – a study has shown that being in water increases blood flow to the brain. A healthy blood flow to the brain is important for supplying it with oxygen, glucose and nutrients.  This could be helpful with meno-brain fog where you can’t find the simplest word to describe something and you put your keys in the fridge. As someone who suffers from this, and swims, I think it probably does make a small difference –  my head always feels a lot clearer afterwards so after a swim I always get down to any work which demands concentration.

All in all, swimming is a good all round workout which helps to keep the heart rate up, contributing to a healthy heart, lungs and weight.  It’s also super-relaxing – well until that man gets in and starts doing laps of butterfly strokes.  And yes, it is always a man.

woman diving on the pool photograph
That’s just showing off.

 

Carole Ludlow

I was terrified of going through the menopause and whilst I glided through relatively unscathed, I didn't entirely escape its attempts to knock me down I firmly believe there is a positive side the menopause and to being an older woman in the 21st century. In my fifties I trained as a fitness instructor, which I did as a side hustle to my regular job of a college librarian. I also took up belly dancing and danced on stage in a city theatre and created my own fitness classes with hula hoops. Last year at the age of 61 I ditched the library job and now buy and sell vintage jewellery, run fitness classes and work part time from home in a customer services role. It ain't over till its over.

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