Friday Reflection: Exercising mind and body

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I was intrigued by a recent article about the “long distance runner” and the comparison with its ‘ugly sister’, the swimmer.

My main way of keeping fit nowadays is lap swimming. As I have just turned 70, my knees have been complaining due to years of distance running, so I have retired to the 50-metre pool for my fix of exercise. When I was running, I was able to chat to a partner and enjoy the scenery but in the pool it became ‘black line fever’!

In order to give yourself a meaningful workout, you need to be swimming at a reasonable pace for at least 30 minutes. That gives you heaps of time to keep your mind occupied. Boredom could cause anyone to give away swimming as a form of exercise – if you allow that to happen!

I came up with a novel way of occupying my time in the pool. You see, I have joined a local singing club, which meets once a month and I try to learn a couple of new songs on my acoustic guitar for each session. I practise the songs in my head while swimming. It is an ideal way to learn the lyrics. Also, I visualise the guitar chords that go with the words, so it is quite a coordinated mental exercise! A lap usually takes me about a minute, so I can gauge how long the song would take. I can even adjust the tempo if necessary. If I make mistakes, I can repeat the exercise, thus eating away a few more laps.

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So, if I practise a couple of songs a few times in one session, I am honing my musical skills while getting my physical and mental exercise, avoiding boredom and, before I know it, my session in the pool is complete.

There would be many who have had knee problems and are seeking a suitable alternative form of exercise. Cycling is an option and certainly causes less stress on the knees than running. However, for an all-round, feel-good, stress-free body workout, it’s hard to beat swimming.

Activities such as yoga and tai chi are great for the mind, core strength and general wellbeing but I am keen on aerobic exercise and swimming gets the nod for me!

Why don’t you jump in the deep end and give swimming a go?

What’s your preferred form of exercise? Have you ‘worn out’ some joints over the years as a result?

Friday Reflection is your chance to write on any topic that stirs you. Simply send your contribution to [email protected] and put Friday Reflection in the subject field. The editor will select one offering to run each week and the writer will receive a $20 gift voucher.

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