Real life: The Power of a Moonlit Outdoor Swim

From restoring balance to stealing some me-time and being at one with nature – isn’t it time you experienced the well-being benefits of a moonlit outdoor swim?

Aside from the odd dip in a hotel swimming pool on holiday after dark, few of us can say that we’ve experienced a true outdoor night swim. Getting into open water at twilight, in an outdoor setting, might feel like a step too far out of your comfort zone. But if you take the plunge, the positive effects on your well-being can be immense.

We caught up with Stephanie, a lover of an evening swim in the great outdoors, to find out why she enjoys it, how to overcome those freak-out moments, and why you should think about giving open water night swimming a go too.

Nothing rivals a moonlit open water swim

I feel completely free when I’m swimming outside; there is a real primeval peace to be found in moving through open water. It forces me to relax my mind, focus on my body and concentrate on my breathing. It also stretches me to my limits – it’s so different to swimming in a pool, as you have to contend with a totally different set of physical challenges, like waves, tides, currents and weeds. However on the plus side, you do get to experience some wonderful, wild and natural places.

It helps build inner and outer strength

Not only is it lots of fun finding new places to explore with my swim friends, there’s a real thrill in exploring nature and landscapes from a completely different perspective. It’s sometimes tough to be in the ‘unknown’, and everyone has their freak-out moments when they imagine sharks or snakes underneath you, so conquering that block is a real challenge! My husband and I both swim through the winter in open water, without a wetsuit, so mentally conquering the cold and getting into an icy lake can be a challenge, but it’s such an adrenaline rush and it makes you feel like a rock star afterwards!

It’s my own personal escape

As a busy mum to a one and three-year-old, it’s one of the only times in the week no one is calling me and asking me to do something for them, so it feels like a real treat! It’s the one hour in the week when I can just be Stephanie, rather than being a mamma / wife / civil servant / sister and more. I try to use my swim session to relax my mind, re-connect with my body and get used to feeling like ‘me’ again. If you’re on your own, it’s lovely to just be able to hear your own thoughts.

Night swims help me feel strong and reenergised

Swimming outdoors has definitely given me more strength and stamina for the other things I do, like yoga. Returning to the ‘moment’ you have when you first submerge in the water is also a great meditation exercise and ensures there are moments of calm in my crazy ‘working mum’ week. I’d definitely encourage every woman to try and find the time to swim – despite all the obvious health benefits and the fact it gives you such a good all over workout, the way it re-balances your mind and emotions is like nothing else! Plus the great thing about swimming is that it doesn’t matter what size you are or how unfit, everyone can do it.

SPEEDO SCULPTURE – MY OUTDOOR SWIMMING MUST-HAVE

I love wearing my Speedo Sculpture swimsuit for my outdoor evening swims. The fabric feels so supportive without being restrictive at all, and I love the flattering neckline – I feel really sexy in it (definitely a bonus when you’ve had two kids!) I love the range of really modern colors too. If you’re looking for a ‘first’ swimsuit again, definitely try a Sculpture one. As anyone who exercises knows, if you feel good about what you’re wearing, you’ll train so much better!

THE SCIENCE BEHIND MOONLIGHT’S MAGIC

A night swim isn’t just therapy for the soul. Although 4.5 billion years old and 252,000 miles away, the Moon can affect our moods and even our sleep patterns. Interestingly, the Moon and Water also have a very special link – the high and low tides of our oceans are directly affected by the Moon’s gravitational pull. Swimming, particularly in the evening as the Moon’s natural cycle revolves, is the perfect activity to interlink mood enhancing movement with the soothing effect of the water.

My favorite time to swim is at dusk, when the sun is setting. It’s a calm, quiet time in nature and everything seems to slow down,” says Stephanie. “As the night approaches, you can’t see much, other than the moonlight, so your other senses take over and you can hear, smell and feel so much more.”

Explore the Speedo Sculpture swimsuit range here.

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The Swimmer’s Guide to Skincare

Get the low-down on how to take care of your skin after swimming, avoiding the drying effects of chlorine and other irritants in the water.

The Swimmer’s Guide to SKincare

How can you protect your skin from the drying effects of pool water? It’s partly about minimizing how much chlorine and other irritants your skin absorbs – moisturize well in advance and always shower before a swim. More generally you’ll want to take good care of yourself. Very hot showers and baths are not your friend, so dial down their temperature. And make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your day, especially if you’re planning a dip.

Products and skincare

  1. What beauty treatments can help a swimmer’s skin?

Exfoliation

A little exfoliation can go a long way when it comes to keeping skin soft. This might be courtesy of an exfoliating mitten, a loofah or an oil-based salt scrub. Whatever your favored method, pay special attention to your knees and elbows as these can be your driest areas. Another plus? Your newly smooth skin – cleaned of dead cells – will more readily absorb moisturizer.

An overnight skin mask

When it comes to beating dry skin, the overnight mask is a real heavyweight. Go for one with hydrating properties and slather on a generous layer before bed. Tip: You might want to put a towel over your pillow to avoid moisturizing more than your face.

The use of lemons

Ever find your knees look a little discolored? Try rubbing them with half a lemon to ease dryness and dark patches2.

2. Which moisturizers work well?

Any quality moisturizer will hydrate skin and, while you’re in the pool, act as a barrier to the chlorinated water. Products containing antioxidants such as vitamin C and E score major points for swimmers. And how about a nourishing oil? These can easily absorb into your skin – choose your preferred blend and massage across your whole body.

And don’t forget: If you’re likely to catch the sun, opt for a moisturizer with a high SPF factor.

3. What can soothe eczema and sensitive skin?

A thick layer of emollient cream will lend you a protective barrier while swimming. Then as soon as you’ve hit land again, wash using a fragrance-free shower gel and chase this with a moisturizer. If the eczema is on your hands or feet, you could try an intensive moistening treatment. Apply this at bedtime before pulling on a pair of cotton gloves or socks to wear overnight.

At the pool

4. Can swimmers wear make-up without it smudging?

A little make-up can be worn if chosen carefully. To cover blemishes and imperfections, make-up artist Linda Hay recommends a CC cream or a tinted moisturiser, especially those containing SPF if you’ll be exposed to any sun rays. In terms of blushers and eye shadows, it’s best to find cream-textured ones as these beat powders when it comes to resisting water.

As for mascara, look out for products specially designed for sports players and later use some cotton wool and an oil-based remover to wipe it away. Alternatively, you could dig a little deeper for an eyelash tint – a great option for people who like minimum fuss in the mornings.

  1. When do you need to shower?

If you shower before a swim, your skin being wet will mean it’ll absorb less chlorine. Wash thoroughly afterwards too although, be warned, using very hot water will strip away your skin’s natural oils. Turn down the heat and go for a moisturizing shower cream before patting your skin dry. It’s then wise to work in your lotion straightaway – by moisturizing when your skin is still moist you’ll help the product to soak in better.

A swimmer’s diet

6. Which foods nourish your skin?

It’s all about those essential fatty acids and omega-3. Swap your chicken for salmon, slice an avocado on to toast, or sprinkle nuts and chia seeds over your salads and breakfast muesli.

7. How much water should you drink?

To keep your skin refreshed, drink plenty of water both before and after a swim. Performance nutritionist Alex Popple says: “Generally, the rule is to drink about 125ml of fluid for every kilometre swum.” Even a slight degree of dehydration can cause you to feel tired and less mentally sharp.

Aquagem Swimsuit

Body-shaping one-piece with bust support and tummy control.

BUY from Speedo and support SwiMMinD

Opalgleam Swimsuit

Smoothing, body-shaping fabric with flattering tummy control. Ultra chlorine resistant.

BUY from Speedo and support SwiMMinD

Source: Speedo

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Swim Into Shape After Pregnancy

Thinking about getting back in shape after having a baby? From toning up in the pool to restoring your fitness levels, we explain how and why swimming can help.

Congratulations on creating a human being! You’ve probably spent the last few weeks in a fog of nappies, night feeds and new experiences. But now that you’ve adjusted to life with your new baby, you might be starting to think about when and how to ease your body back into exercise.

Enter swimming. Low impact, and non-weight bearing, swimming is a great way to get back into the swing of exercise without putting a strain on your joints and ligaments, which can stay soft up to six months after you’ve given birth. Whether you choose to swim laps, jog in the water or do an aqua aerobics class, water-based exercise is ideal for helping you to tone up, strengthen your body and lose weight safely after having a baby.

Wondering when to start swimming after giving birth?

Life as a new mum can be hectic and exhausting, so it’s important not to rush into exercising, even if you’re super-keen on getting back into shape after your pregnancy. Having said that, exercise can help post-natal recovery, improve your wellbeing and give you some all-important space from the delightful demands of parenthood.

Swimming supports your weight, offering a safe way to exercise, even in the early weeks after the birth. However, when exactly it’s safe to swim for the first time after having a baby depends on a number of things, including your fitness before and during pregnancy, the type of birth you had (a caesarean requires a longer recovery period, for example) and whether you had an episiotomy or stitches. Generally speaking, it’s safe to swim providing stitches have healed and you no longer have post-natal bleeding, however it’s sensible to speak to your midwife or health visitor for advice that’s individual to you.

**Flattering your post-pregnancy shape **

First of all, let’s give your body the respect it deserves. It might not look quite like it did before you became a mama, but it’s created, housed and delivered a baby, which is no mean feat. In the process it’s changed somewhat and, as a result, you may be reluctant to don a swimsuit in your quest to get back in shape.

Right now, you want swimwear that flatters your body, controls your post-baby tummy, smoothes lumps and bumps, and supports your (possibly milk-enhanced) bust – all while looking stylish and modern. Enter our Speedo Sculpture line of swimsuits, which do all of the above and more, thanks to soft, durable, second-skin fabrics. Even better, our designers have included clever visual details such as pattern, prints and colour to create the illusion of a slimmer silhouette and smaller waist.

Above all, our Sculpture swimsuits have been designed to help you feel confident in and out of the water, so you can get the most from your time in the pool. Need a little more help in the confidence department before you swim? Read these easy tips to help you feel more comfortable and happy in your swimsuit.

Burning calories and losing baby weight

Okay, let’s get down to business. If you want to lose weight and get back in shape after giving birth, swimming is just the ticket. Not only does it support your joints, but it provides a pretty challenging all-over workout. Legs, tummy, arms, glutes – you’ll be hard pushed to find an alternative exercise that works so many muscle groups at the same time. And as for calories, even a gentle half-hour swim is the equivalent of around one hour of non-water-based exercise, and burn up to 250-300 calories, plus read our tips on how to burn more calories in the pool without swimming for longer.

Start your swimming gradually, paying attention to your body during and after your swim. As your fitness improves, lengthen your sessions or speed up your pace. Once you’re feeling stronger and fitter, consider including aqua-jogging in your pool sessions to mix it up – softer and gentler on your joints, it’s an ideal alternative to running on the road

Tone up your tummy

As a new mum, you’ll be familiar with pelvic floor and core strengthening exercises, and should be performing them daily on the advice of your midwife or health visitor. Swimming requires a strong core to hold a solid, horizontal position in the water, but you can also incorporate aqua-gym style moves into your pool session, such as this straight leg raise, which is a good alternative to crunches:

Straight leg raise

In the deep-end, rest your back and hips against the pool wall, arms out-stretched either side of you, holding the pool edge, with your legs straight directly below you. Now use your core muscles to bring your legs up to a 90-degree angle, as if sitting with them outstretched straight in front of you. Keep your hips and back against the pool wall as you lift your legs up and then lower them back down again. Try 10-15 reps to work your abdominal muscles and help achieve a toned stomach.

Get leaner with resistance training

The secret to shaping up effectively after pregnancy is to build lean muscle. Muscle burns more calories, so the more you have, the more you’ll burn. The great thing about swimming? It provides consistent resistance every time you swim, but you can speed up the process by including body weight resistance exercises such as lunges and squats in your pool time, performing them as you would on dry land. Worried you’ll feel self-conscious? Check your local pool for group aqua-aerobics classes.

Finding the time to swim

So, all of the above sounds good. Just one problem – time . One thing you’re in short-supply of as a new mum. To help you get to the pool, enlist a lovely relative or baby-experienced friend to help you out. Depending on how flexible your baby is, and whether or not you’re breastfeeding, your willing babysitter could join you at the pool and wait while you swim. Or, if your baby is in a good napping routine, arrange for them to cover for you while you head to the pool. Perhaps they could even take your baby to a swimming class, or for a splash around in the baby pool, while you swim your laps?

It might not work out first time and, as with many things baby-related, it might take several swimming attempts to find a way that works for you and your baby. However, managing just one swim should be celebrated when you are a new mum, so relax, enjoy yourself and soak up those endorphins. Don’t forget to check out our top tips on incorporating swimming into a busy lifestyle, or shop our Learn to Swim range with everything you need for your babies first splash, to more confident swimming adventures.

Smoothing swimsuit with body-shaping fabric and flattering tummy control. Ultra chlorine resistant.

BUY from Speedo and support SwiMMinD
This swimsuit is designed to lengthen the body, while the print visual shapes and enhances feminine curves.

BUY from Speedo and support SwiMMinD

Source: Speedo

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Why do we need flexibility?

The ability of the joints and muscles to move through their full potential range of motion is essential for easing the performance of everyday tasks. We need flexibility in our shoulder joint to reach above our head and change a light bulb, or to reach for an object on a highshelf. We need flexibility in our hip joint to climb stairs, and take long strides when walking. If we are flexible we can swim/move more efficiently.

In addition, flexible joints and muscles will contribute to the maintenance of correct posture and joint alignment. Improved posture can potentially enhance our physical appearance. Indeed, standing tall and upright can have a slimming effect on most body frames. Therefore, being sufficiently flexible will allow us to swim with greater ease, and with greater poise.

Conversely, a lack of flexibility will cause our bodies to become stiff and immobile. We will be less able to reach up to a high shelf, and less able to bend down and tie our shoe laces. This can restrict the everyday movements we are able to perform, and make us less self-sufficient. In addition, swimming with incorrect technique and joint alignment will potentially create muscle imbalance, and possibly increase our risk of injury. Therefore, being flexible is of paramount importance not only for swimming but for improving the quality and economy of our movements in everyday life.

Being sufficiently flexible will contributes very much to the enhancement of our swimming performance. If we are not sufficiently flexible, we are more susceptible to injury, especially when we are swimming, when we are performing movements that require us to move quickly into extended positions, reaching up and away, and twisting, rotating.

Some sporting activities require much more flexibility that we need to perform our daily tasks. In particular, some of the martial arts and dance activities require excessive flexibility. These activities can lead to us having too much flexibility. If we are too flexible, and the muscles and ligaments around the joint stable, we are also promoting greater risk of injury.

Ultimately, we need the right amount of flexibility to perform our everyday tasks, and maintain correct alignment. However, if we participate in sporting activities, such as swimming we require a little extra flexibility. A competitive swimmers will need greater flexibility to assist with the achievement of their goals. However, if we swim for recreational purposes, it is arguable whether we should push ourselves so far. The key issues is to decide our reasons for participating, and our individual aims. ideally, we should ensure that we are flexible enough to meet the demands placed on our body, without placing our bodies at risk from injury.

SUMMARY OF THE LONG-TERM BENEFITS OF FLEXIBILITY

  • Improved range of motion in the joints
  • Improved posture and joint alignment
  • Potential for enhanced swimming technique
  • Reduced tension in the muscles
  • Reduced risk of injury when moving into extended positions.

How can we improve flexibility?

Flexibility can be maintained by the frequent (daily) performance of activities that require our muscles and joint to move through their full range of motion. Since most sedentary lifestyles do not naturally provide this opportunity, stretching activities are incorporated into most swimming Programs.

Stretching activities are those which require the two ends of the muscle, the origin and insertion, to move further apart. This causes the muscle to lengthen, and will potentially increase the range of motion at the joint. However, the muscle must also be allowed to relax to achieve an effective stretch.

Static stretch positions are generally advocated as safer for most individuals in land-based exercise sessions. Static stretches require comfortable supportive positions to be adopted and held still for and appropriate duration . The aim is to enable the tension initially felt in the muscle (the stretch reflex) to dissipated (de-sensitisation) and allow the muscle to relax and move more safely to an extended range of movement . However, if we move too quickly or too far into the stretch reflex may not occur. It is therefore essential that we listen carefully to our body and move only to the point of a mild, initial discomfort. A disadvantage of performing these stretches in water is that the body will cool down quickly, and muscles should be warm to stretch.

Active stretching is where the opposite muscle contracts to bring about a stretch of the other muscle pair. For example contracting the hip flexor to raise the knee upwards would be an active stretch of the gluteals. The disadvantage of active stretching is that the positions are sometimes less relaxing. In the example described, the hip flexor would work statically (isometric) to hold the position; over a period of time this would increase tension in the hip flexor muscle, reduce oxygen delivered to the muscle, and potentially contribute to lactic acid building up the muscle (hip flexor). The stretch would need to be released to removed these effects.

Passive stretching is where both the prime mover/agonist and antagonist relax. This is achieved by supporting the stretch position. Passive stretching potentially enables more relaxation. For example: to stretch the gluteals, raise the knee in front of the body and hold with the hands. This enables the hip flexor to relax, so both muscles can relax. The stretch position can usually be maintained for longer.

Ballistic stretching movements are discouraged. They are those that require the body to move too quickly into extended range of motion. The tend to maintain activity of the stretch reflex and prevent de-sensitisation occurring. In addition, the momentum produced may potentially cause the range of motion to be exceeded and create a risk of muscle tearing and damage to the ligaments and other tissues that surround the joint. In the long term such activities may reduce stability of the joints, creating hyper-mobility. They may cause irreparable damage to the muscles and joints, which may restric range of motion and decrease flexibility.

Another method of stretching, that is sometimes recommended (particularly for water-based programs) is dynamic or range of motion stretching. Dynamic stretching occurs when the joints and muscles move through the full range of motion but there is no specific static holding phase. The movement into and out of the extended range is continued for a specific number of repetitions. These stretches can be performed fairly safely in water because the resistance of the water prevents the speed of movement becoming ballistic in nature.

The recommended training requirement for improving flexibility

Frequency

How often?

2-3 times per week minimum. 5-7 times per week is ideal.

NB: the muscles must be warm prior to stretching to prevent muscle tearing and promote range of motion

Intensity

How long

Positions that promote the feeling of mild tension/tightness 9not pain) in the belly of the muscle at the end of the range of movement.

2-4 repetitions of each stretch can be performed.

Time

How long

Static stretching – 15- 30 seconds hold.

PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching – 6 secon contract followed by 10 -3 aecond assisted stretch.

Type

Static or PNF techniques for all major muscle groups

Slow and controlled performance progressing to greater ranges of movement. It is also essential to give consideration to the specific flexibility needs of the individuals (current flexibility levels and flexibility needs for their specific swimming activity)

Exercise in water considerations

PNF streching is not appropriate for water-based sessions and the water temperature would need to be very warm for the inclusion of a lot of static stretching.

It is recommended that dynamic range of motion stretches are used for water-based programs

How can we cater for different levels of flexibility?

Less flexible participants will generally need to work through a smaller range of motion. It is much easier to control their range of motion by using static stretches. However, body temperature needs to be monitored! Static stretches will assist with preventing them exceeding a safe range of motion. They should only move into a stretch position to a point where they feel a mild tension. This may require some stretch positions to be adapted so they are able to stay within a comfortable range. If dynamic/range of motion/moving stretches are used with the less skilled or flexible, they should be advised only to move to a point they feel comfortable. Their movements throughout the main workout will also need to be slightly smaller and perhaps slower. It may be necessary for them to perform movement with shorter levers and smaller range of motion to prevent them from overstretching.

More flexible participants should be able to move quite safely through a larger range of motion. They should be encouraged to use longer levers and fully extend (straighten) their joints, without locking them (hyper-extending), to move to their full potential. Potentially, the majority of their stretches can be dynamic/range of motion, provided the participants have sufficient body awareness and muscular control of their movements.

Power Bands

Each Power Band is made to withstand even the harshest conditions. They can be used in strength training, flexibility or body weight exercises. There are 7 color coded bands to choose from that vary in width, thickness and overall resistance to provide you the variety you need for each unique workout.

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Stability Ball

With a static weight rating of 1,250 lbs. (567 kg), the Stability Ball is a great way to improve balance and core fitness, or add variety to your swimming core exercises. Use with Life Fitness Medicine Balls for increased challenge and greater exercise variety. Available in three diameters – 55cm, 65cm and 75cm. *Available in U.S. only; 90-day warranty

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New Year Resolution and Swimming!

What is the secret to long lasting results?

Probably you have a Do list for the New 2019! You are full of expectations for better, healthier and more successful year!

However, the big question is: what is the secret to have long lasting results?

Probably you are very busy person. Your daily routine is packed, full of meetings, long drives to work, early get ups… or you are very stressed because you are looking for a job. At these moments the idea of “time for myself”, “time for swimming” looks like a dream! But have you ever asked yourself what made you do your first step as a baby, or how long it took you to learn to read? It was a cocktail of things, but the main ingredient was PERSISTANCE! You were unstoppable as a baby. Why not be unstoppable now as a grown up? All you need to do is to keep trying again and again! 

The beginning is always difficult but when you keep going, it always gets better and better, easier and easier. For example, a kid goes to swim lessons one time per month for a period of 3 months and based on his swimming abilities his parents decide that he should try another sport. This kid did not have a chance to develop his swimming skills. His only chance was to hope that if he goes to another sport, he would have more time to practice. Most importantly, this kid might miss a valuable life-lesson: It takes time and practicing until one achieves excellence in anything he does! As Malcolm Gladwell stated, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. Therefore, if we keep changing our focus, we wouldn’t be able to reach excellence in anything.

Talking about swimming and its positive impact on people, we usually believe that it takes long time to go and to do the practice. However, if swimming really helps our body, mind and soul, to feel better for the rest of the day, we may conclude that one hour per day is not a long time. It doesn’t matter if we are beginners or advanced swimmers, practicing continuously, makes us more confident, because we are well organised and able to manage difficulties. Swimming also keep us in good shape, relieves the stress and effects our lifestyle!

There is a saying that it is easier to think, to dream of something than to do it. However, nothing is impossible! Work hard! Work with joy! Work for your dreams!

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