Being healthy and having fun go hand-in-hand when you are swimming. This supersport can benefit your health better than most other forms of exercise for a number of reasons.
1. Swimming Provides a Total Body Workout
Swimming utilizes almost all the major muscle groups in the body, making it an exceptionally thorough form of exercise. In addition, it also:
- Increases the heart rate without adding undue stress to the body, especially the joints
- Tones muscles and improves overall strength
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Works the heart and lungs due to the cardiovascular benefits
While swimming does not build bone density because that requires weight-bearing exercise, it does improve bone strength, especially in post-menopausal women.
2. Swimming Helps Treat Injuries and Health Conditions
Swimming is one way to continue getting gentle exercise, even while injured. It even helps the body heal due to the extremely low-impact placed on the body and joints. While swimming, 90% of body weight is supported by water.
With health conditions such as arthritis, inflammation often occurs, especially within and around joint spaces. This inflammation can restrict movement and cause swelling and pain. Swimming has a multitude of benefits for arthritis, including
- Strengthening and supporting the muscles which can further aid in preventing arthritis from worsening.
- The movement itself is what helps prevent arthritis from worsening and with swimming, you get the action without the pain and discomfort that comes along with many other forms of exercise.
- Water-based exercises help improve the utilization of the affected joints in osteoarthritis as well as decreasing pain.
- People who have rheumatoid arthritis see more health improvements with hydrotherapy than with other forms of exercise.
3. Swimming Improves Mental Health
Exercise releases endorphins, which are the chemicals in our brain that make us feel happy. Swimming can help alleviate anxiety as well as boosting our mood. In a 2014 pilot study of people with dementia, those who swam regularly for 12 weeks, showed an improvement in mood.
Swimming regularly can also help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. The reason behind this is simple: swimming is a very calming and soothing activity due to the meditative quality of this unique form of exercise.
This activity allows more oxygen to flow to your muscles and forces you to regulate your breathing. Studies have also shown that swimming can influence the brain through a process known as hippocampal neurogenesis, where the brain replaces the cells that are lost through stress.
4. Swimming Helps Prevent Heart Disease
Exercise in general will, of course, help prevent heart disease, but swimming for just 30 minutes a day can help provide the following health benefits:
- It can help to control cholesterol levels by reducing the bad cholesterol such as LDL and VLDL, which can cause high cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Swimming can boost your metabolism – 30 minutes in the pool is equivalent to 45 minutes of land-based exercise, and it lowers blood pressure levels as well.
- It lowers the heart rate and improves breathing as well as circulation.
5. Swimming Helps You Lose Weight
As with most cardiovascular exercises, swimming burns calories resulting in weight loss when added along with a healthy diet plan. The added benefit with this activity is that the resistance from the water itself adds even more calorie-burning benefit, helping people get in shape.
Specific swimming exercises can even target your core, which further aid in reducing belly fat, such as
- Flutter kicks which target the lower abs
- Butterfly kicks which target the obliques
Compared with walking, swimming improves body weight, body fat distribution, and insulin levels.
See the Benefits for Yourself
Small changes in our lifestyle can make a huge difference. Exercise is a beneficial change to our overall health and wellbeing, and swimming is at the top of the list. The best part is that swimming can be done at any age. Other sports can even be incorporated into your swimming session, including walking and running in the water. Whether you are doggie paddling or doing fancy butterfly strokes, your body will be getting healthier with each movement. When you add in the lack of stress on the joints, you can easily find yourself doing a mini-marathon and not even know you’ve done one!