Exercise is about so much more than how many calories you burn


At Mind Waves, we spend a lot of time talking about what makes life better. One thing that comes up over and over again is exercise. Whether it’s running like Robert, cycling like Rosie or gardening like the people at Rosebank Garden, there’s so much more to it than trying to lose weight.

Exercise gets us outside, it connects us with people and places. It gets lots of feel-good chemicals going, it encourages us to notice our bodies. For many people, it’s a recipe for wellbeing.

So, we loved this post from Ruth at Outside the Box. She responds to an article that claims that, for most people, swimming is a waste of time. We love her holistic, light-hearted response.


Most swimmers are wasting their time?

Most swimmers are wasting their time, say doctors” – this headline caught my eye as I’ve just discovered that there is a pool not far from my flat and (particularly with a Glasgow Life membership) going for a swim is a cheap and enjoyable way to do something active and clear my head.

I clicked the link with scepticism as from the mental and physical rejuvenation which I always feel after stepping out of the pool – and which stays with me for the rest of the day – I certainly don’t feel like I’ve wasted my time.

The article tells us that, if we class ourselves as an ‘average person’, our swimming technique is likely to be so bad that we won’t gain any “noticeable health benefit” or be able to lose any weight.

I happen to be fortunate enough to have had many opportunities in my life to keep myself active and healthy, so getting myself out to the pool is not something I had to build the confidence to do. For many people – for any number of reasons – getting out of the house; to the sports centre; through the changing rooms and into the pool is a real achievement.

Reading articles like these, I can’t help but think of those people who have recently built up the courage to go for their weekly swim being told that there is really no point.

The article continues by claiming that not only are most of us terrible swimmers, we – now hold your breath – just spend the time in the pool ‘chatting with friends’.

Indeed, last time I went two older women were paddling up and down the slow-lane having a right old blether. I smiled at this at the time & thought ‘what a lovely way to start off a Wednesday morning’. According to this article, I should have approached them and said ‘excuse me but you are both wasting your time’.

I’m not a fantastic swimmer & I have no idea if my ‘technique’ is building my muscles or burning off fat, but the point is that I know that it has a health benefit because I feel better for it.

This Monday was Mental Health Awareness Day. As the media continue to bombard us with reactionary headlines, articles and adverts to make ourselves feel rubbish, it’s important to remember that health is much more than about losing some pounds, and that your mental and physical wellbeing are intrinsically linked – improve one, improve the other.

The article does at least conclude with some sense spoken from the chief executive of the Amateur Swimming Association, noting the benefits that swimming can bring to people of all ages and abilities.

So let’s celebrate the value in just getting out of the house, doing something different and chatting with friends. View your mind and your body as one whole, and keep dipping your toes in the water.

Swimming is a great way to get out & keep yourself active particularly as we come in to winter and outdoor activities become more difficult.

If you’re in Glasgow, you can find your local pool on the Glasgow Life website. If you live elsewhere, get in touch with your local council to find out if there is a pool near you.

Not in to swimming but want some other ideas to keep well and healthy this winter? Keep an eye on our blog for more tips to come.

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