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COLUMN: Just keep swimming

I often joke that I get some of my best writing done in the pool. I like being active, and I enjoy a diverse range of physical activity.

I often joke that I get some of my best writing done in the pool. 

I like being active, and I enjoy a diverse range of physical activity. I like playing soccer and running the most, but I also enjoy cycling, hiking, rowing, lifting weights, or playing other sports. Basically, if it gets my heart pumping, I'm a fan.

One physical activity I've maintained over the years is swimming. While I wasn't the strongest swimmer as a kid and never wanted to go to my swimming lessons, my mentality has shifted quite a lot as an adult. Now, I really like lane-swimming, and try to hit up the local pool in my area of Calgary at least once a week to swim 20 or so laps, usually followed by a 10-minute stay in the hot-tub and steam room. 

As most people are aware, swimming is a great form of exercise. It not only helps improve your VO2 max (the max rate of oxygen you consume when exercising) but also helps build muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance, all while providing a full-body workout. And it has far less of an impact on your joints than running or other forms of cardio. I also find I get a better night's sleep after a tough swim session.

I also like swimming because it's one of the rare occasions I can get a complete break from the blue light emitted from computers or cell phones. Even in most fitness rooms, there's a TV on nearby that can capture my attention and distract me. I already know I log way too much screen time throughout the day. Swimming is a much-needed opportunity to take a brief break from that ever-present technology.

I also find swimming is a great stress reliever. While I've never been good at turning my brain off entirely, I find swimming puts me in a slightly foggier mental state, where I'm thinking somewhat mindlessly about all sorts of things. I admit I can often forget which lap I'm on, and usually over-compensate by swimming an extra lap or two at the end of my workout just in case I mis-counted.

But having said that, it's a bit ironic that I use swimming as a means of stress relief or escape from work, as I do actually end up getting a bit of writing done in the pool – all in my head, of course. During my lane-swimming, I sometimes think up ledes for whatever stories I have on the go that day, as well as ideas for what our next editorial should be. (By editorial, I mean the article on the left-hand side of page 6 of our newspaper, by the way). 

If you've never been a swimmer, I'd recommend giving it a try. It's a fun, relatively affordable exercise option, and provides plenty of health benefits.

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