There is some irony that my last name is Gill and I was a competitive swimmer at a young age. I began swimming competitively mostly out of convenience for my mom – she didn’t want to drive her 2 kids to 2 different places for 2 different activities. My brother was a natural in the water (our teammates nicknamed him “gill fish”) and loved it. Eventually I gave in and started swimming with him. I learned to love it.
I never got as good as my brother, but I did hold a high school record for over 10 years and swam at the NCS Championships which is the regional finals for high schools. When I went to UC Berkeley for college, I wasn’t fast enough to make the team, but I kept on swimming for fun and fitness. I still swim about once a week.
THE IMPACT OF IMPACT
One of the most highly rated reasons why swimming is such a great form of exercise is that it’s low impact on the joints. It’s so different from sports like tennis and running where your feet are constantly hitting the pavement. Instead, you’re strapping on a set of flippers (or not) and actively floating in liquid space.
Swimming is also an excellent cardiovascular workout. You’re pulling and pushing H20 with your arms and legs and using your core to navigate forward. One of my favorite workouts is to swim 1 lap at 80% intensity and then rest for 20 seconds. I repeat this 8 times much like a tabata workout. It’s what I call the high impact of low impact.
I need space to think. Some of my best creative thinking and problem solving happens when I’m swimming. There’s just something about being in a space that is void of noise except for your stroke and breathing. My coach always said that swimming was just a lesson in breathing. Funny how my yoga instructor says the same thing.
The skin is the largest organ in the body. Expose your skin to UVB rays for about 20 minutes and your skin will make Vitamin D which is essential for bone health. I choose to swim outdoors for this reason. I do wear sunscreen, but I know that after 30 minutes of swimming, I have made enough Vitamin D for a week.
THIGHS + HIPS SECRET
In my humble opinion, swimming is the best thigh and hip slimmer in the world. Flutter kick a few hundred times in the pool, and your thighs and hips will feel it. My secret is to use a kick board with no fins and kick 5 sets of 4 laps with a minute rest in between each set. And here’s the bonus – your abs will feel like you did a hundred sit ups as well.
It’s time to dive in.
Love and ?,
Dr. Tanya Gill