The great benefits of swimming are indisputable, as illustrated by the blog articles you can read on this site. There's still, though, an ongoing debate about the best time for swimming. Is it better to swim in the early hours like so many of the tycoons of our time preach? Or later times during the day are best? Let's try to present a detailed overview.
The “Win the Day” paradigm
The news from the UK is food for thought. A new movement is becoming a quite trending reality: The Win the Morning, Win the Day (WTMWTD) group began a year ago from a physical training instructor in the Royal Navy, named Chris Reeves. It all started last summer in the coastal count of South England. What was the major motive for Chris to set up the group? The answer is not difficult to imagine. As he writes on the site “the rising stress and mental health decline amidst Covid-19” and a podcast he had heard about getting out of your comfort zone, gave him the idea. The philosophy and action plan of WTMWTD is easy to comprehend but difficult to practice: All people who want to participate gather next to the sea at very early hours-5.30 to 6.00 am- and they combine walking long distances with swimming. As cruel as it may sound, the group attracts the interest of tens of individuals, who speak passionately about how the whole experience has changed their lives and helped them confront their mental health issues. What is even more interesting is that this kind of “movement” has spread to more places in the UK and the world.
The benefits of waking up early
For all of you who were teenagers back in the '80s, there was an influential movie of the time. The Dead Poets Society explored the innovative methods of a maverick teacher (played by the unforgettable Robin Williams) who was trying to inspire his young students and lead them to new heights of self-expression. One of his favourite lines was “Carpe Diem”, the Latin expression for “seize the day”. This is one of the greatest arguments of people who prefer to wake up very early, as they could manage to perform more activities and take advantage of most of the day hours. It is a solid argument and there are even more benefits to gain:
- It gives you more time to perform activities, like exercising or performing a favourite hobby that could enhance your productivity
- It makes you feel more energetic during the day
- It improves brain function and enhances mental health
- It provides more free time as you would have much time to complete your daily job duties
- It could improve your eating habits because it would highlight the importance of the breakfast
All the above points are also strengthening the early swimmers reasoning. Getting an early swimming session is indeed a great revitalising factor that can boost your performance throughout the day and even make you a better person as a whole.
The benefits of late swimming
As it happens with most aspects of life there is rarely one completely right approach. It’s no surprise then that there is also great justification for the supporters of the late swimming theory. Which are their main arguments?
- Late swimming releases all stress after a hard day's work
- Late swimming is more effective because the muscle system reaches its peak at that time after a long hour of stretching
- Recovery is better because after a long swim session you would go to rest in your home
- Late swimming can help greatly with sleeping issues
- Swimming in the sea is safest because there are lifeguards at that time
It is quite obvious that the above are strong arguments too. Swimmers who prefer later times to perform their favourite activity are not less “justified” than early day swimmers. This is a significant point because during the last years there has been a trending theory that almost sanctifies early swimmers. This theory usually combines the early swimming theory with the habits of the tycoons, supporting a rather naive point of view. It is quite common to read nowadays that all super-rich people on the planet wake up early and they swim or jog before starting to work and this is an essential reason for succeeding. Nonetheless, if it was that simple, the vast part of the global population would have solved all their financial problems just by waking up early. Or, to go back to the “Win the Day” paradigm, all swimmers who are part of the group would spend their time wondering how they would use their fortunes instead of trying to tackle their mental health issues.
Chronotype is essential for choosing when to swim
So, after all, what's the verdict? What's the best time of the day for swimming? Early or late? To give the best possible answer, we should take under serious consideration one very significant term: Chronotype. The word comes from the combination of two Greek words: Chronos (meaning time) and typos (meaning type). Sleep Foundation provides a very good definition of the term (LINK): Chronotype is the natural inclination of your body to sleep at a certain time, or what most people understand as being an early bird versus a night owl. It is what we often call “morning types” of a person or “owl types”. The first tend to perform and function better in the early hours while the latter reach their productivity heights later during the day. The first tend to wake up very early, the latter wakes up quite later. Is there anyone who can argue in favour of the one or the other beyond any doubt? I highly doubt it. Especially if we think about the changes that occur during the cycle of life. Young people tend to sleep more during the day while older ones usually wake up very early. Within the wide spectre of human attitudes and behaviours, what seems to be crucial, is the achievement of a healthy sleeping cycle. It does not matter that much if we wake up at 5.00 am or 9.00 am, as long as we sleep well. Regular swimming can be enormously helpful and drastically improve your sleeping habits and this is what matters most regardless of the time of the day that you choose to do it.
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