Swimming is a popular summer activity, whether you’re at the community pool, the lake, or the beach. It’s also a common sport that many people participate in when they’re young. Somewhere along the line, kids start to slack off and start swimming less and less. Statistically, children swim more than adults now, but people swam more overall in previous decades.
Swimming is one of the best full-body, cardiovascular workouts you can do. You want to know the best part? It isn’t a high-impact activity that can take a toll on your knees, ankles, hips, back, or other joints. The constant worry of whether or not you will injure yourself is a common reason to avoid a certain exercise. Fortunately, swimming is excellent for people who deal with joint issues, as the body is near weightless in the water.
Water has some pretty unique properties and immediate physical benefits, pain modulation being one of them. According to research, people tend to have long-term benefits to mental and physical health in people who swim on a regular basis. Since this is the case and the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week, why not make swimming your primary form of activity? To begin, try working in 30 minutes of lap swimming three times a week. Use the other days to complete other forms of exercise, including resistance training and walking. Don’t believe that swimming is the real deal? Continue reading to learn about swimming’s amazing health benefits.
Gives You A Mood Boost
Let go of the idea that swimming can only take place during the summer months. Break out the swimsuit during any season because you can always swim at indoor pools throughout the year. One study found that people who swam between October and January reported less fatigue, improved memory, and better well being. Swimming is thought to lower levels of anxiety, stress, and depression, which helps to put you in a clearer, more optimal state of mind.
Improves Lung Strength
The more laps you swim, the stronger your lungs get. Swimming works to train the muscles that the body uses for respiration. That means that swimming on a regular basis can help improve breathing technique and lung volume. Improving the strength and function of the lungs is especially beneficial for those with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The pool is a great setting for asthmatics, as it is humid, warm, and a low-pollen environment. If your lung condition interferes with your ability to exercise, consider talking to your doctor before you pick up swimming.
Boosts Your Brain
There are several studies that link regular exercise with improved cognitive function. When researchers studied the relationship between swimming and cognition, they discovered a unique benefit. This study monitored participants who completed a 20-minute moderate-intensity swim. Researchers noted that they were able to process visual information and respond quicker on cognitive tests both before and after their swim. The fact that swimming made a small but measurable difference in cognition excites researchers on how else swimming can benefit the body and brain.
Helps To Keep You Lean
Swimming is a full-body workout and it can be quite intense if you increase your speed and intervals. After a swim, you should feel like you worked your arms, shoulders, legs, back, glutes, and core. By engaging all of the major muscle groups, you get more cardio bang for your buck. Researchers estimate that a 155-pound person can burn about 432 calories by swimming for an hour. Compare that to the 266 calories you burn while walking for an hour and you can see the difference. One study even found that swimming helped to decrease body fat and body mass index.
Helps You Live Longer
Add swimming to your list if you want to extend your life. In addition to eating healthier, swimming may help decrease your risk of early death. One study monitored over 40,000 men between the ages of 20 and 90. The participants who swam or engaged in pool exercises (water jogging or aqua aerobics) reduced their risk of death from any cause by 50% compared to sedentary men.
Boosts Heart Health
One study of patients with osteoarthritis found that swimming was just as effective as cycling for improving cardiovascular function. Additionally, researchers suggest that swimming helps to reduce inflammation just as much as other forms of exercise. However, a 2018 meta-analysis revealed that swimming offered beneficial effects on cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition. The review noted that swimmers experienced improvements in exercise performance, ventilation, body mass, and lean mass.