I’ve discovered a fantastic way to start the day during the summer. It’s swimming at daybreak in a way that makes this activity a delight! I’m going start by giving you a little background on what led me to this discovery. Then I’ll describe the experience, which reveals my motivations for doing it.
Many years ago, I took up power walking as a replacement for aerobic exercise on machines at a health club. I would start these walks right after sunset to avoid daily exposure to the sun.
I enjoyed these walks immensely. I always felt great when I finished. The physical and emotional lift comes from getting your blood flowing and creating the conditions in your body for the release of endorphins. This is one of the rewards of aerobic exercise. You get a natural high!
When I’d take these walks during hot summer evenings they weren’t as enjoyable because of the heat. When I lived in an area that had more humidity, I’d be sopping wet when I returned.
After I moved to Las Vegas, and now Henderson, the humidity was much lower than where I lived before but the temperature was much higher. I found that it was much more of an effort to go power walking on a hot summer evening than it was to go walking on a cold winter morning. In fact, it felt unhealthy to walk fast when it was hot. The opposite was true when I walked when it was cold, which was actually invigorating.
The hottest part of the day is in the late afternoon and early evening. So it didn’t make much sense to walk at that hour so I switched to morning.
I get up every day at 4:00 am and I am on my walk by 4:15. I’ve always enjoyed getting up early, but this is the earliest schedule I’ve ever had. It came out of a desire to take advantage of the coolest and quietest part of the day. I came to appreciate the beauty of this time of day, especially in a desert region like Southern Nevada.
So I began walking in the morning, but I found that it was still rather warm. High 70’s, low 80’s. Not bad, but I wasn’t getting the same invigorating feeling that I’d get when I’d go for a walk on a cold winter morning. Then it hit me. I was living in a complex that had a pool and a hot tub! And it was open 24 hours a day!
Taking a swim at dawn has become one of the most cherished activities of my day. Here’s why. When I arrive at the pool, it’s still dark and silent. There are no birds singing, no people talking, and no cars running. The only sounds you hear are from crickets. It’s a sweet peacefulness.
The first thing I do is get into the hot tub. I do not turn on the jets. The noise from those things would ruin it. The hot water and quietness soothe me no matter how I feel when I arrive.
After several minutes, the sky starts to light up just a wee bit. When it does, a gradual transformation begins. The birds start to stir. Then they begin preening themselves. A few minutes later, they start chirping and singing. The surrounding landscape and buildings slowly change from dark and mysterious to colorful and familiar. The sun never reaches the point where it is peaking over the hills until long after I’ve returned home.
I spend about 5-10 minutes in the hot tub before getting into the pool. It feels cool and invigorating as I quietly slip into the water and start to swim. I’ve learned that after a lap or two the water no longer feels cool but rather a perfect warm temperature. It’s incredibly refreshing after sleeping in a hot room all night. I have air conditioning, but I turn it off when I go to bed.
I do a modified version of the breaststroke that I fashioned in my early 20s. Most of my body remains below the surface. This produces much less disturbance to the water than a regular breaststroke.
I’m sure that my breaststroke style creates more resistance, but that’s what I’m after. I want to gain both aerobic and muscle toning benefits. I am not concerned with speed. There’s another advantage to this swimming style. It’s quiet, so I don’t disturb my neighbors at 4:30 in the morning.
In my early 20s during my extended summer of love adventure, I’d get a McDonald’s Big Breakfast to-go and then head to the bay for a swim. I’d cover my breakfast with my towel and I’d swim about 6 laps between two buoys. These buoys marked the swimming area and boat lanes.
When I was done with my swim, I’d rinse off under an outdoor shower and then have breakfast. It was a pleasure having breakfast on an empty beach as the sun came up. It was amazing how the atmosphere changed as beachgoers arrived. I loved it.
Back in those days, I didn’t get up as early, I only swam a few laps, and I ate a very unhealthy breakfast. Now with more knowledge, I do all those things differently.
Today I get up much earlier, swim more laps, and eat a very healthy breakfast. The more I learn about the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise the more motivated I become.
I do three (3) sets of 10 laps for a total of 30, with a few minutes of rest in between. During my rest, I drink filtered water. When I’m done, I head back to the hot tub.
By then the sky is a little brighter and more colorful. The birds are now flying around and singing to the top of their lungs. It’s beautiful!
As I sit in the hot tub, I’m getting the payoff from my swim with feelings of euphoria. For the next 15 minutes or so I meditate, enjoy, and plan my day. I frequently come up with great ideas for articles and solutions to problems while I am swimming and sitting in the hot tub.
I refer to this in a previous article entitled, “Increase Exercise Routine Benefits,” as “Turbo-Charged Brainstorming.” I came up with this article and another this morning! I had this one almost completely written in my mind before I sat down at my computer.
I am very grateful that I discovered, or actually re-discovered, this pleasurable way of getting aerobic exercise and a positive state of mind. This activity has also helped me to appreciate the value of the simple things in life. I can’t get this feeling by sleeping in later. And I surely can’t get it by watching the morning news!