Urban life is rather sedentary; involving lots of sitting down at the office, in the pub or on the sofa, so it’s important you maintain a decent exercise regime. Fortunately, London is filled with gymnasiums and parks where you can lift and jog to your heart’s content. But you will know better than most that swimming is another form of exercise. And even in an urban environment it is widely available but often overlooked

Don’t worry if you’re not staying in a fancy hotel with its own pool because you are spoilt for choice when it comes to public swimming holes in London. These are some of the best places to go for dip in the Big Smoke.

Hampstead Heath Ponds (pictured)

This iconic location should be top of your list of places to swim in London. Don’t expect anything fancy though! These are just murky green ponds with crayfish lurking at the bottom. There’s a male only pool and a women’s pool, but most just go for the unisex pool.

The water is thick with silt, making it feel silky smooth but rather difficult to swim in. This means you have to work harder but you get a better work out in less time. The greatest thing about swimming here is the idyllic English park environment; you can enjoy a relaxing stroll after your swim. At only £2, this is the cheapest option except for the Serpentine!

The ponds of Hampstead Heath are way too cold for normal people during the winter months, but you can still swim outside at the …

London Fields Lido

This 50 metre Olympic size, heated outdoor pool is open all year round.

It’s right in the middle of Hackney’s hipster hive, which is either a good or bad thing, depending on your tastes. Locals may well boast that they swam there before it was cool.

Ironmonger Row Baths

The five lane swimming pool at the historic Ironmonger Row Baths was built in 1938 and was reopened in 2012 after a refurbishment as part of a £16.5million restoration project funded by Islington Council. Many of the building’s historical features were also lovingly restored and a second pool was built.

This affordable public pool is close to Old Street roundabout and a great way to get some exercise while visiting a historic building at the same time.

Golden Lane Leisure Centre

Close to the big Brutalist behemoth that is the Barbican, you will find this attractive, light filled roof top swimming pool. Although only 20 metres long, it is reasonably economical at £8 a swim, especially if you live or work close by. There are a variety of swimming lessons available here too.