Swimming has been called the perfect exercise. After all, you can get all of the benefits of an aerobic workout without any damaging impact on joints, and it can be done by both the very old and the very young.
Because you must move your entire body against the resistance of the water, swimming is a wonderful workout.
Swimming is a good all-round activity because it:
- is a full-body workout
You use big segments of both your upper and lower body when you swim. Different strokes work for different muscle groups, and mixing them up will give you a well-rounded workout. Here are some examples:
- Freestyle or crawl stroke, emphasizes shoulder and chest muscles and includes a kick that engages your thighs and rear as well.
- Backstroke works posterior shoulder muscles and the upper back, which promotes good posture.
- Breaststroke exercises the biceps, triceps, pecs, lats, deltoids, and inner thighs.
- builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness
Swimming can lower blood pressure, strengthen your heart, and improve your aerobic capacity in addition to being an endurance exercise.
If that’s not motivating enough, experts advise that swimming for just 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in women by 30 to 40%. Additionally, regular cardiovascular exercise like swimming can safely and naturally lower blood pressure.
- helps you maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs
Everyone is aware that swimming is a fantastic calorie-burner, but most people are unaware that it can be just as effective as running on a treadmill. Swimming can burn as many or more calories than running, depending on your effort and the stroke you choose.
For example: for 10 minutes of swimming you burn 60 calories with the breast stroke, 80 calories with the backstroke, 100 calories with freestyle, and an impressive 150 with the butterfly stroke.
For perspective, running a 10-minute mile burns around 100 calories. Therefore, a strong 30-min butterfly speed session can burn 150 more calories than running a 5K in the same time frame.
- tones muscle and builds strength
Swimmers gain muscle strength throughout the entire body. Where runners see muscle build in their legs, swimmers utilize more muscle groups to move through the water.
- helps you stay flexible
Swimming pushes your body through a range of motion, whereas training machines in certain gyms tend to isolate each body component at a time. This helps joints and ligaments stay flexible and loose. Your arms move in wide arcs, your hips are involved because your legs scissor via the water, and your head and spine twist from one side to another side. Additionally, when you extend forward with each stroke, your body lengthens. Swimming facilitates full-body stretching in this manner.
- reduces inflammation
While swimming’s heart-muscle-strengthening effects are well known, research also shows that aerobic exercises like swimming can lower inflammation, which prevents the buildup of atherosclerosis in the heart.
- lowers stress and depression
While many talk about a runner’s high, swimming can bring about all those feel-good emotions too. In addition to the happy hormones, you also can feel a relaxation response similar to yoga. Swimming is also calming and meditative, as the sound of your breathing and the water rushing by helps you focus inward and drown out all other distractions. This lowers stress and depression naturally.
Research also shows that swimming can reverse damage to the brain from stress through a process called hippocampal neurogenesis. So, if you feel like you’re drowning emotionally, jumping in an actual body of water may be exactly what you need to find your feel-good feet again.
- improves sleep
According to a report from The Sleep Foundation, 2022, people who practiced vigorous exercises, like swimming, improved their night’s sleep twice and reduced sleep problems related to insomnia like getting back while sleeping, waking up too soon, the difficulty of falling asleep and so on.
Getting started with swimming
Getting started in swimming is easy. It is a sport for all age groups, skill and fitness levels. Before you get started, you will need to purchase a pair of swimmers and some goggles.
There are public pools that are open to everyone. Entry to public pools is inexpensive and many aquatic centres offer swimming lessons for people of all ages, as well as training and exercise groups.
Some general tips for swimming
Before you dive in:
- Make sure you know how to swim.
- Choose a safe environment and ensure the water safety of children.
- Warm up and stretch your muscles and joints before entering the water.
- Have plenty of fluids on hand and drink regularly.
- Don’t overdo it if you’re just starting out.
- See your doctor if you haven’t exercised for a long time.