I went to the town pool with my daughter yesterday. She loves swimming, and free pool hours are definitely as high on her list of favorite activities as they are on my list of dreaded weekend activities to avoid at all costs. Growing up as a fat kid with chronic ear infections, it is really no wonder that I'm no fan of swimming. However, as long as I was there doing my parental duties, I decided to swim a couple of laps to get some exercise in.
I did a few dozen laps alternating between butterfly and backstroke with kickflip turns and even measured breaths, and by that I mean I did a lap and a half of semi-retarded freestyle with great gasping gulps of panic, fearing more for my life with each chaotic spasm of my willy-nilly limbs. (How do you do a half lap, you ask? Obviously you plan it out ahead of time so that you end up in the shallow end so you can walk the last half lap. I may be a bad swimmer but mama didn’t raise no dummy.)
As I clung gasping to the wall at the end of the last half lap, I wondered two things:
1) The body craves more oxygen during exercise to fuel working muscles, therefore heart and respiratory rate increase. As such, shortness of breath and an elevated heart rate typically indicates that exercise is being achieved. I exhibited these symptoms at the end of my swim, aka nearly drowning in a horizontal fashion. The big question is, however, does nearly drowning constitute exercise? Is there a fundamental difference? And if so, is there any way to incorporate the wii fit balance board?
2) If you look at people that run great distances for exercise, you begin to see similarities between them and other mammals that run. They get sleek and wiry like cheetahs or horses. Does this mean that as I swim I may start to resemble a whale? If fat helps me float, isn't my body likely to do whatever it takes to preserve my inherent flotation? My goal is to burn fat, but the self-preservation instinct would call for less drowning, and therefore the preservation of more flotation, aka fat. If regular swimming is likely to cause the preservation (or increase) of fat reserves, I may retire my Speedo for good (as 6.76 billion humans breathe a collective sigh of relief).