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December 11, 2013 3 min read

If you're slowly falling down the slippery slope of festive indulgence (bigger portions, sugary sweets and gallons of alcohol) then why not have a trial run of your New Years Resolutions now? It'll give you a head-start on 2014, and less of an uphill climb shedding the excess. Set yourself a deadline challenge, alongside a structured and realistic training routine; the 'deadline' gives extra motivation when you want to hibernate, & the prospect of public humiliation means there's no space for 'meh, I'll do it tomorrow/next week/next month'! Your challenge could be doing a full push up, lifting a milestone weight, running the circuit faster... or perhaps learning how to swim, for instance! MY challenge and New Years resolution (starting now) is to learn to swim the front crawl as part of my involvement with the fabulous charity Sport Relief’, which helps support the under-privileged across the world. Their event runs from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014, and anyone can get involved! So whilst I'm splashing, kicking (swearing?) my way through the kilometres of water at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park pool, I'll also be burning off the Christmas pudding(s) and raising money for a fantastic cause at the same time. Below are just 7 of the many reasons why I think swimming is such a fantastic sport!! 1. IT STRETCHES YOU - It’s the perfect remedy to stretch any stiff muscles, perhaps from a previous heavy workout, and to help speed up recovery. The large range of motion helps the joints and ligaments to loosen up and become more flexible. Having said that it’s a good idea to do some additional stretches afterwards (I will be posting them on here). 2. A FULL BODY WORKOUT - When performed correctly (I’m working on it!) swimming delivers an intense full body workout including back, chest, abs, legs – everywhere! And you don’t get the discomfort of sweating (well, not until after you get out of the pool!). 3. ZERO IMPACT - Swimming allows you to exercise aerobically but without the high impact to the skeletal system. Since around 90% of your body weight is supported by the water, it’s a great form of exercise for anyone with injuries or impact-related joint pain. 4. FABULOUS STRENGTH TRAINING - You’re super-light in the pool as most of the weight is carried by the water which is about 800 times denser than air. That gives a constant level of resistance to work against, so that every kick or stroke is weighted. It’s a fantastic way to develop muscular and bone strength . 5. STRENGTHEN THE HEART: Being an aerobic exercise it helps make the heart muscle become more efficient at pumping improving blood flow. 6. CALORIE SLAYER - Swimming can toast fat (depending on how much effort you put in – as with anything). A 30 min front crawl swim session could burn between 4-500 calories – which is more than jogging. 7. RELAXATION - recreational swimmers settle into a leisurely rhythm and while away the lengths on autopilot-mode, during which time their minds are often wandering; because of its repetitive character, swimming is thought to be fairly meditative! The submerged state can have a focussing effect on the body (rather than the mind), produce endorphins, and encourage muscle relaxation. So why not sign up for a charity event?! Sport Relief Games have three fundraising events; the Mile, The Swimathon and The Cycle. My Swimathon takes place at the landmark Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, (THE venue of the London 2012 Olympics) where I’ll be swimming for a good cause – couldn't be more excited! Hope to see you there! Fitness On Toast Sport Relief Swimathon Blog Daily Hiit-3

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