If you’re trying to keep fit, your first thought might be to join the gym and start lifting weights or running on the treadmill. But before you do, have you considered swimming?
If you haven’t, you’re not alone. Over 40% of children in the US have little or no swimming ability which suggests that we aren’t making the most of such a beneficial sport. Swimming exercises are great for your health, and we’ll start to explain how here.
Why Try Swimming Exercises?
If we were to outline every single benefit of swimming, we’d be here all day. Instead, we’ve condensed every way that swimming is so great for your health into five key reasons, which you can read below.
Boost Your Mental Health
Swimming has a clear impact on your mental health. We associate water with relaxation, so even a quick swim can reduce your stress levels and chill you out. Your brain function improves after a swim too, thanks to the process of hippocampal neurogenesis; cells lost due to stress get replaced by your brain.
If you’re looking for that release of endorphins, that’s another reason to head for a swim. Hormones that make you feel good, endorphins are released through physical exercise, and swimming is ideal. Research has even suggested that swimming regularly can help people with dementia.
It’s also quite meditative in nature, allowing you to switch off from the outside world and the worries and concerns of your daily life – you’re free to immerse yourself in the water and enjoy the time alone.
Low Impact = Good For Everyone
Whereas some forms of exercise can be a little too strenuous for those living with certain conditions, swimming is a low-impact sport that almost anybody can do. Seniors or people with conditions like arthritis who might not feel comfortable in the gym can swim at their own pace to look after their bodies. You can even buy mastectomy swimsuits – it really is a sport that accommodates everyone.
Swimming can even offer relief from pain and stiffness caused by arthritis, and you might experience fewer physical limitations after a swim too. It has similar effects on people with multiple sclerosis (MS), giving pain reduction and improvements in other symptoms associated with the condition.
On the other hand, if you’re a regular athlete but struggling with an injury or perhaps just coming back from some time away to heal, you’ll probably find swimming to be a therapeutic return to exercise as the water supports your body and allows you to get back into the swing of things at your own pace.
Improves Strength and Cardio
You might associate swimming more with cardio, but in fact, swimming helps in improving both cardio and strength. If you’re thinking of swimming for cardio, you’ll want to know that the exercise increases your heart rate and helps to improve stamina and endurance too.
Swimming may also help in reducing blood pressure and controlling your blood sugar levels. You don’t have to spend too much of your time in the pool to reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, so it’s a great activity to try if you’re hoping to prevent more serious issues.
Moving onto strength, the gentle-to-moderate resistance of the water prompts an increase in muscle strength and helps to keep your muscles toned. Swimming keeps your arms, legs, and core in shape so you can kill two birds with one stone and really reap the benefits.
Keeps Your Lungs Healthy
Another benefit of swimming is that it keeps your lungs in good condition. There is evidence that links swimming regularly with having better lung capacity, and this will, in turn, help improve your swimming.
The healthier your lungs are, the better they’ll be at processing oxygen, which will mean you won’t get out of breath as easily. Moreover, studies have indicated that reduced lung capacity may contribute to cardiovascular disease, so that’s even more reason to look after your lungs.
Even if you’re asthmatic, you don’t need to be excluded from swimming. The humid atmosphere of indoor swimming pools can be easier on your lungs, and the regular breath-holding that comes with swimming can help you manage your breathing too.
You should bear in mind that there are possible links between the chlorine in indoor pools and airway irritation, but no concrete evidence to suggest that swimming in chlorine-treated pools will make your asthma worse. If you have any concerns, speak to your doctor.
Works Your Entire Body
We’ve already explained how swimming is great for your heart and lungs, but the sport is actually a full-body workout. Each different stroke works different muscle groups, but the resistance of the water means that regardless of how you swim, you’ll be utilizing a variety of muscles.
Because of the gentle resistance of the water, it’s more difficult to exercise in the swimming pool than on land. In fact, every minute of working out in water is equivalent to about 90 seconds of exercising on land, so it’s definitely worth trying out.
Swimming works your arms, legs, core, back, and glutes all at once, and it makes your body more flexible too. It’s up to you how strenuous you’d like to go – for a challenge, you’re free to go faster and more intense, or you can ease off if you’d rather. One of the perks of swimming is that you can personalize your workout to suit your preferences.
Get Started Swimming
If you decide that swimming is for you, there’s no time like the present to get started. If you’re worried about any health conditions, feel free to consult your physician before you start for advice on the sort of swimming exercises you should do.
Join your local pool, be safe, and enjoy! We’ve outlined some of the key reasons why swimming is great, but the benefits don’t stop there. Try it out for yourself and see what you think.
If you’re looking for more tips on keeping yourself fit and healthy, check out some of our other posts.