Swimming is a fun and great way to stay fit and active with much lower impact on your joints than other aerobic workouts. Swimming can help you shed body fat and maintain a healthy weight. It’s also a good muscle workout, as the water provides consistent resistance as you power through the pool to work your arms, legs, abdomen and back, allowing you to build strength and endurance.
Regular swimming can offer anyone, particularly elderly people, a wide range of health benefits. The following are eight benefits you will be taking advantage of by taking up swimming.
- Full body workout
Swimming uses all the body’s muscles so whether you swim for fun or fitness, you will get a full body workout. The strokes that utilize a wide arc such as front crawl target a lot of the arm muscles, while the scissoring movement made with your legs forces your body to use your leg muscles. Swimming is also really helpful as a way to stretch out your whole body as you keep reaching further out with your strokes.
- Increase muscle tone and strength
Swimming is a great way to increase muscle strength and tone, especially compared to several other aerobic exercises. Every kick and arm stroke becomes a resistance exercise and it’s known that resistance exercises are the best way to build muscle, tone and strength. Swimming has also been shown to improve bone strength especially in post-menopausal women.
- Maintain a healthy weight
Swimming is one of the best ways to keep your weight under control. An average swim can burn over 200 calories in just 30 minutes. Of course, the exact number of calories you burn depends on your own physiology and the intensity with which you go about doing this exercise. But as a general rule, for every 10 minutes of swimming: the breast stroke will burn 60 calories; the backstroke torches 80; the freestyle lights up 100; and the butterfly stroke incinerates an impressive 150 calories.
- Reduce heart disease risk
Swimming aids the heart in pumping more efficiently thus ensuring a better blood flow throughout your entire body. An analysis by the Annals of Internal Medicine also showed that regular aerobic exercise such as swimming can help reduce your blood pressure. That means you are at lower risk for heart disease and stroke.
Although most people who suffer from heart disease are not advised to engage in physical exercise, but doctors recommend swimming as it does not put as much pressure on the core as other workouts do.
- Reduce asthma symptoms
Some studies have shown that swimming can actually relieve asthma symptoms. According to a study published in the scholarly journal, Respirology, a group of kids that completed a six-week swimming program saw improvements in symptom severity, snoring, mouth-breathing, and hospitalizations. Not only that, swimming can increase overall lung-volume and teaches proper breathing techniques.
- Control blood sugar
Swimming strengthens all the major muscles in the body, which is important in controlling diabetes. When exercising, muscle cells more efficiently absorb blood sugar, this it can lower blood sugar levels. The glucose control benefits from exercise can last for hours but they are not permanent. This is why getting exercise regularly is more important for people with diabetes than is working out more intensely, but less frequently.
- Reduce stress
Swimming is also a best exercise for relieving stress. The contact with the water is very beneficial in helping to loosen up the body and mind. The regular rhythm of the stroke, the immersion in the water and the concentration on the technique quickly feel like a relaxing meditation in the water. Research also shows that swimming can reverse damage to the brain from stress through a process called hippocampal neurogenesis.
- Live longer
If the previous seven reasons weren’t enough to convince you to start swimming, perhaps this one will: Swimming can prolong your life. Yes, that’s right!
A new study suggests that swimming may offer life-extending benefits. For the study, researchers at the University of South Carolina followed 40,547 men, aged 20 to 90, for 32 years. The data showed that those who swam had a 50 percent lower death rate than runners, walkers or men who got no exercise. The study authors concluded that the same benefits would be received by aqua-women as well as men.
Now, you have found a good reason for taking up swimming, but before you get started here are several things you should know.
- Make sure you know how to swim. If you don’t know how to swim, take some classes to learn the basics and get used to it.
- You will need swimming suit and googles, so your eyes won’t get affected by the pool chemicals. If you have long hair, you should consider a cap.
- Don’t eat too much or consume alcoholic beverages before swimming.
- Warm up and stretch your muscles and joints before entering the water.
- Familiarize yourself with the basic strokes: freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly.
- Don’t overdo it if you’re just starting out. When you’re feeling tired, don’t push yourself, but rather stop and rest.