FEELING GREAT: Swimming is the best exercise you can get

West View Primary School pupils Kaleb Cairns, Megan Taubman and Jordan Allison celebrate the news that swimming will be free for everyone in Hartlepool aged under 16 during the school summer holidays.
West View Primary School pupils Kaleb Cairns, Megan Taubman and Jordan Allison celebrate the news that swimming will be free for everyone in Hartlepool aged under 16 during the school summer holidays.

Varying your activity and exercise routine is something that I will forever encourage you to do.

And one of the other things that I hope to see is for young people to get active and find something that they love doing to do, as early as possible.

So how fantastic is it to see Hartlepool Borough Council’s idea to give free swimming lessons to all children in the town?

Are there any down sides to the water based activity? None that immediately spring to mind.

Even the financial aspect will surely win in the long run as the statistics will forever prove that the earlier you can get active, the more likely the habits will stick.

And with it, years of enjoying better health.

A few free bus rides and entry to the local authority pool surely small change in comparison to the health benefits of encouraging the regions children to take up a life long love affair of an activity such as swimming.

Yet the problem with swimming is that it’s often something that you can be forgiven for associating with fun or just doing for pleasure.

Or even something that you only do when you’ve got too hot from sitting on a sun lounger for too long.

And that’s exactly the point and why it can work.

Swimming is one of the most fun things that you or your family can get involved with, and among other things, it’s also been proven many times over to have a dramatic effect on lowering the blood pressure levels of those aged 60 and over.

So swimming shouldn’t be over looked what ever your age.

You need only be actively swimming in the water, three times per week for 40 minutes or more to be in with a chance of reducing the systolic reading of your blood pressure significantly. That’s the really important one.

Now think about the number of people you know suffering with knee and hip problems caused by years of pounding the streets through running. Compare hard surfaces to the buoyancy that water offers and the reduction in stress that it offers your joints, and it’s not difficult to see why in the long run, swimming is a fantastic habit to learn.

And it seems that Hartlepool is really starting to focus on the importance of the health of its next generation.

Just a week or so ago, while walking home from work, I witnessed the pupils of West Park school being shown lessons in bike safety from an instructor while being supervised by their teacher.

Forget history, geography and the like, that surely one of the most valuable lessons they’ll have attended this year?

And with clubs like the Burn Road Harriers, cycling routes all over town and even our own swimming club based at the Mill House baths, there appears a number of organisations waiting in the wings for todays youngsters to seamlessly continue the fitness habit for the rest of their lives.

And if the council is really serious about inspiring school children to a lifetime of fitness and more, how about running a video of Hartlepool’s Jemma Lowe in action at last summer’s Olympics each and every time they enter the swimming pool or on the bus journey to the baths?

The real problem that many people face is that they just don’t know where or how to start.

Watching a few video re-runs of last summers Olympics involving Jemma wouldn’t be a bad place to start.