No matter who you are, the main aims of any fitness regime you put your mind to will usually consider three outcomes – to lose weight, improve overall fitness or build on muscles. There are only a few sports that cover all three of these areas and swimming is our personal favourite!
Apart from being an all-round excellent sport to take up, swimming also reaps plenty of other benefits that will help you even when you’re out of the pool. We’ve explored 6 great benefits of swimming to help you understand why incorporating swimming into your weekly fitness regime is a great idea.
Great cardiovascular exercise
Because water is about 800 times denser than air, your muscles are always under resistance, meaning that swimming is an excellent form of resistance training — and it’s well known that these exercises are the best way to build muscle tone and strength. Because swimming uses so many muscles under great resistance, your heart and lungs must work even harder to ensure they are all supplied with oxygen. And an exercise that makes you breathe a little heavier is great because it’s a sign your body is working hard!
It lowers stress and decreases depression
It has been scientifically proven that exercise relaxes the brain. One of the benefits of swimming is the release of feel-good natural hormones called endorphins that increase positivity and happiness. By incorporating exercise into your daily routine, you’ll find that your mood will balance out, sleeping will be improved and stress levels significantly lowered. Similar to yoga which works hand in hand to swimming, it is a relaxing combination of muscle stretching and deep breathing.
Can improve exercise-induced asthma
Exercise in general is a great way to take care of your asthma. Did you know that world-class athletes Paula Radcliffe and Bradley Wiggins have the condition? By taking care of your asthma and keeping symptoms under control, you can enjoy any form of exercise. In an Asthma UK survey, 37% of people with asthma said they enjoyed swimming regularly. The warm, humid air found in indoor swimming pools doesn’t irritate the lungs the way cold, dry air outside does. When exercising outdoors, the cold air often dries the airways, triggering asthma symptoms. This can make breathing difficult and uncomfortable. However, studies have shown that swimming in a pool with chlorine can upset asthma, so it is recommended to speak to your GP before adopting swimming into your weekly routine.
Swimming is an excellent choice of exercise for people of all ages, but it’s particularly beneficial for elderly people or people with arthritis due to the low impact nature of the sport. Because water counteracts gravity, you’re basically weightless when in the pool, which is great for giving your joints a rest. Joel Stager, Ph.D., director of the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming at Indiana University at Bloomington has been studying the benefits of swimming for years, and has found that you “can swim almost every day without risking injury”.
Great for losing weight
Swimming is possibly one of the most effective ways to burn calories. In half an hour you can expect to burn up to 200 calories on a gentle swim, which is more than double that of walking. Increase the speed of your lengths and you can expect to see the calories diminish even quicker. By incorporating swimming into your weekly routine and cutting 500 calories from daily intake, you can expect to see your body fat drop.
Builds muscle all over
Because of the low impact nature of swimming, it doesn’t carry some of the negatives that lifting weights has with injury. It also strengthens the muscles in your shoulders, back, abs, lats, legs and triceps – so basically all over! Each stroke targets different areas of the body, so it is important to mix up your strokes during your swim to ensure all muscles are being worked.
It’s clear to see that there are many wonderful benefits of swimming and by bringing in one or two weekly training sessions, you are bound to see great results – whether this be with your endurance, muscle gain or overall wellbeing. So next time you’re heading to the pool, grab your SwimFreak goggles and don’t forget to tell us about your results over on our social channels!