I like exercise, I really do, but I’m limited in what I can actually do. I have psoriatic arthritis. Which means I suffer with pain, swelling and stiffness in my joints. Unfortunately every single joint is affected, I don’t do anything by halves.
I exercise mostly by walking as much as possible, I aim to do 10k steps a day at least. I also cycle.
Exercise, although sometimes uncomfortable is definitely beneficial because it loosens my joints up and the stronger my muscles are around the joints, the better the joints are supported.
Last week my daughter went swimming and in doing so, planted a seed in my mind.
I like swimming, and it’s a low impact (on the joints) exercise. I began to think I should start doing it. But I also had seeds of doubt, as is always the way.
I’d never been swimming alone before, only with the kids. Would I feel ridiculously self conscious on my own? Would I look hideous in a swimsuit? Would I look silly because I’m not a particularly strong swimmer and I don’t swim *properly* I just paddle and kick and somehow manage to go forwards, or backwards.
I had a look online and with the help of some Tesco club card vouchers I could buy a lovely swimsuit for only £6:45, one with a little skirt bit to cover my bum, and padded cups so I wouldn’t be squished, pancake style.
I ordered it but was still unsure about actually going.
It arrived on Monday and fitted perfectly, I’d even go as far as to say it looked quite good. I hung it on the living room door to allow myself to get used to the idea.
The seeds of doubt were growing strong and because I know myself quite well I knew that it was now or never.
I spent Monday evening preparing, shaving neglected areas, packing my kit, including a snack for the way home, as motivation.
Then when I woke up on Tuesday morning I had breakfast and tentatively set off.
Twitter, as always was full of encouragement and I began to believe I could do this.
I decided I’d have half an hour in the pool. Enough to get my money’s worth but not enough to feel it was too much.
At the leisure centre I changed into my swimsuit and went out to the pool with my towel tied firmly around me. I’m not that brave.
The pool was quite empty, it seems like Tuesday mornings are when elderly ladies go for a paddle and a gossip.
I got in and had a moment of oh fuck I’m doing this. And then I swam. I swam for an hour. I swam lengths, one after another. I realised I didn’t look stupid, I’m a much better swimmer than I’d imagined, nobody cared one jot how I looked and most importantly, I was having fun.
Walking home my right foot which is always particularly painful, wasn’t hurting, it had loosened up. And I felt good. Really good.
I expected that I’d feel sore the next day, I had swum a lot. But after the best nights sleep I’d had for a long time, I’m not sore at all.
In fact I’m planning to go again on Thursday and then at least once or twice a week.
I’m sure there are lots of people like me, thinking of trying swimming for exercise or even as an escape from stress, (which also applies to me), put off with worries of going alone, feeling self conscious about wearing a swimsuit and maybe worried because they’re not a particularly strong swimmer. But trust me hen I say you should take the plunge. Pun intended.
It may be nerve wracking at first, and I can’t promise you won’t feel self conscious, but I can promise it will be worth it.